I know You’ve got a lot going on, and Hunter Thompson’s recent arrival probably has the angels all aflutter, but wanted to bend Your ear a minute about a matter of some concern to us down here in the other city of angels.
Just over a year ago You saw fit to grant L.A. a little radio station at 103.1 FM, known as Indie 103, a pretty-much-freeform, alt-rock haven for music fanatics, unsigned local bands, and aging punk rockers with latent DJ genius (Sex Pistol Steve Jones, Henry Rollins et al.).
You may have done this to prove Your existence and overmastering goodness to those of us who’d grown to loathe KROQ, and believed radio conglomerates were purely Satanic endeavors. In Your infinitely comic wisdom, You arranged that Indie 103 would be owned by a Spanish-language broadcaster, Entravision, and that Clear Channel, the world’s largest and evilest radio-blob, would sell Indie’s on-air advertising. For lo, Clear Channel knows nothing about radio, but they do know advertising, and their unique leverage has enabled Indie to survive while building an audience. Let us note at this time that Jonesy’s Jukebox has been particularly successful in poaching KROQ listeners. Indeed, if given the choice between Hoobastank and a cockney ex-junkie playing Foreigner and Sweet, sensible young men choose the latter.
Your station has revived the sagging hearts of thousands, reminding us of a time when radio mattered. When stations held local band nights and the lines stretched down the block, and the air smelled of excitement and freedom. And pride. L.A. pride. L.A. was once the greatest of radio towns, and deserves to be again.
And, as You knew when You invented the medium, great radio should be local. It should be cheap, accessible, street-smart, and open to the snot-nosed contender with too much talent and no connections. It should overplay two butch indie-label twin sisters named Tegan and Sara, and help their incredibly hooky bubblegum–new wave get handpicked for a spotlight on Ryan Seacrest’s American Top 40. Dave Navarro should play Black Sabbath on Saturday night because he feels like it. Most of all, X should be played at least once an hour, for the remainder of our lives, on L.A. radio.
You knew this, God, and You made it happen. Not incidentally, in response to Indie’s brilliance, KROQ has become just a little bit more listenable.
As You ordained, KROQ’s owners, Viacom, recently took a major hit on Wall Street. Do I weep for them? No, God, I do not: Radio should never have been a cash cow in the first place. All Your children who actually care about making good radio accept that. And no, I do not weep either for Clear Channel, whose stock has also tumbled in recent years. All these fuckers had it coming, God, as You’ve made clear. It is right that they should now eat shit with humble pie for dessert, learn a lesson, and mend their ways.
In L.A., at least, Clear Channel has been doing that by helping Indie. (Who cares if they had ulterior motives; they did Your work in the end, which is what counts.)
Last week, however, Clear Channel was forced to dump its deal with Indie, because the FCC said they were juggling too many stations. It wasn’t quite a surprise and it wasn’t technically a bad thing — government regulation is generally what protects good radio. But it was tragic. Indie will continue until at least March 31. Its fate on April Fool’s is in Your hands.
After consulting the angels — strictly off the record — I am convinced Entravision understands Indie’s greatness and will do everything it can to keep it alive. So please help them, God. We know You’ve got tricks up Your sleeve. You work in mysterious ways, and anyway, You gave rock & roll to us. You wouldn’t take it away.
Yours truly, etc.,
PS: That moonrise Friday night was rad.