Friday, January 16, 2009

Retro Friday: The Birth of Indie 103.1

The late Indie 103.1 -- original logo above -- first appeared on L.A.'s radio waves during Christmas 2003, replacing the short-lived dance format "KDL 103.1." Indie launched with a few days of punk and alternative Christmas music, before adopting its music format.

If you remember, the station broadcasted for the first several months without DJs; its liners were marked by a station voice that sounded like the slacker voice over guy from Carl's Jr. (Thankfully, they eventually got rid of that guy --a few years later.)

Here's how Franklin Avenue first covered the demise of KDL in 2003:

More Radio Waves
As expected, dance station 103.1 KDL signed off for good at midnight, ending its not-quite-year run with the techno tune "James Brown is Dead."

The station then immediately launched into holiday music, starting with "Punk Rock Christmas." It's a more eclectic mix than what's playing on KOST 103.5 right now. But just what we need: Two all-Christmas radio stations, right next to each other on the dial.

But stay tuned: 103.1 will segue to a rock format after the holidays. But the dancing is done.

And then... our first take on the station, at the end of December 2003:

Snap Judgement on the new "Indie 103.1"
Dance fans returning to L.A. from their Christmas vacations are probably wondering just what the hell happened to their "103.1 KDL." Meanwhile, station owner Entravision launched the frequency's new format at 11 p.m. on Dec. 25.

The station's handle? "Indie 103.1." College radio vets, begin guffawing at the station name now. But look past the unfortunate name, and I gotta admit, my initial impressions are pretty good. Scanning the radio message boards, someone said they even heard an obscure Public Enemy track on the station the other day. For a commercial outlet -- and one whose sales are being handled by conglomerate Clear Channel, no less -- that ain't bad. Gleaned from the radio boards at Radio-Info, here are two hour-long sample playlists heard in the last few days:

5:03 PM WHITE STRIPES Hello Operator
5:05 PM U2 Unforgettable Fire
5:09 PM MICHAEL ANDREWS Mad World (Ft. Gary Jules)
5:17 PM X White Girl
5:21 PM SMITHS What Difference Does It Make
5:25 PM NOFX Franco Un-American
5:33 PM PIXIES Velouria
5:37 PM POLICE So Lonely
5:41 PM IMA ROBOT Dynomite
5:43 PM FOO FIGHTERS I'll Stick Around
5:51 PM ATMOSPHERE Trying To Find A Balance
5:55 PM BEASTIE BOYS Rhymin & Stealin
5:59 PM NIRVANA Come As You Are

> > > 10:00 AM BAD RELIGION Sorrow
> > > 10:08 AM PEARL JAM Glorified
> > > 10:10 AM TALKING HEADS This Must Be The Place ...
> > > 10:24 AM STEREO MC'S Step It Up
> > > 10:26 AM SMITHS Ask
> > > 10:30 AM INTERPOL Obstacle 1
> > > 10:34 AM RAMONES Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll...
> > > 10:38 AM ENGLISH BEAT Best Friend
> > > 10:42 AM NIRVANA Come As You Are
> > > 10:44 AM U2 Bad
> > > 10:50 AM POLYPHONIC SPREE Light And Day
> > > 10:54 AM MARLEY, BOB/WAILERS Three Little Birds
> > > 10:56 AM RADIOHEAD Where I End And You Begin

I know what you're thinking: How can they call themselves "Indie" when (a) Most of the music they play was released on major labels and (b) Clear Channel is frickin' involved?!

I dunno. And the station needs to mix it up more. Where's all the new indie stuff? And how 'bout a sprinkling of alternative hip-hop, both past and present?

But it is nice to see some competition for powerhouse KROQ, albeit on a weak signal and with a narrow target audience.

As you can see, Indie originally focused heavily on older tracks, before becoming the more musically adventurous station that earned all of those accolades. Interestingly, the music tweaks over the past few weeks represented a return to that original heavy reliance on gold tracks. Sadly, it was too late to save the station.

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