Sunday, February 20, 2005

Are Indie's Days Numbered?

Radio boards continue to buzz over the eventual fate of Indie 103.1.

That's right, the favorite radio station of Los Angeles blogdom -- and the one named best commercial radio station by Rolling Stone mag -- could be in trouble.

It all has to do with caps on how many radio stations one company can control in a market. As you know, Clear Channel sells ad time on KDLD/KDLE Indie 103.1, which is actually owned by Spanish-language station owner Entravision. Because Clear Channel already owns eight stations in Los Angeles, it appears that the station owner will eventually have to divest of the joint sales agreement, or JSA, it has with Entravision to sell the station's time. (JSAs originally didn't count toward that total -- but under revised ownership and attribution rules, they now do.)

Once that happens, it's highly unlikely Entravision will continue the Indie 103.1 format -- at least, so goes the prevailing opinion in the radio community. Entravision will likely sell the frequency, given its weak penetration in East Los Angeles and other Spanish-speaking areas.

The 103.1 frequency, of course, has seen much upheaval through the years. The signal -- which is actually the combo of two transmitters in Santa Monica and Newport Beach -- is just plain weak. One commenter at believes the stations will ultimately be sold and turned into brokered ethnic outlets, targeting Korean listeners via the Santa Monica signal, and Vietnamese listeners with the Newport Beach signal.

Still, even after Clear Channel's JSA expires, here's hoping Entravision finds a way to keep the Indie format going. It needs some tweaks -- I'd add more permanent DJs, tighten the playlist slightly (perhaps bring in more alt hip-hop like Talib Kwali) and ax some of the specialty shows -- but on balance it would be a shame to see the station go. Talk about great radio: Adam Sandler sat in with ex-Sex Pistol Steve "Jonesy's Jukebox" Jones on Jonesy's radio show Friday; talk about an unusual mix of talk and music. Sandler discussed his father's death; Jonesy talked about why he hasn't dated a "bird" in over a year.

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