I never got a chance to wax poetic about my most favoritest radio station ever in the history of radio stations, so although this is 18 months after the fact, I would like to pay tribute to Indie 103.1.
The concept of the station was music for music lovers delivered by music makers with very little playlisting (in the beginning). Before this station, I had never heard of X, had never heard a single Elvis Costello song, had only heard maybe 2 or 3 punk songs, had never heard of the New York Dolls, would never have been exposed to country music that I could enjoy, would never have known of MGMT, MIA, or LCD Soundsystem (you can keep Vampire Weekend, though – blegh).
Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols hosted a show every day called “Jonesy’s Jukebox”, and he played his favorite tunes and made some up on the spot while hosting awesome indie/alternative guests. The “Mighty Morning Show” was hosted by Dickie Barrett of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and MAN was his show good! The topics and guests were ALWAYS interesting, he started a thing called “Tat-Tuesday” where musicians and others would get tattooed live in studio during the show (and if he couldn’t find anyone, he would get one himself). Barrett was pretty funny, and I learned about a lot of music on his show that I’d NEVER would have heard of in any other context. One of my favorite shows was “Camp Freddy Radio”, hosted by Dave Navarro, Donovan Leitch, Matt Sorum, and Billy Morrison (I may be forgetting someone). Who would have thought that Dave Navarro was so frickin’ funny? He and his bandmates had great chemistry and their shows were always entertaining, and they played great music. For a long while, Rob Zombie had an evening show that he hosted with his wife, which was entertaining just for the sheer fact that Rob Zombie is an ornery-ass dude. And if you enjoy listening to Henry Rollins on NPR right now, you can thank Indie for that. He hosted a show once a week called “Harmony in my Head”, and it was wonderful because even if you didn’t all like the music he played, you had to get high off of his sheer frenetic energy and passion. He curated his shows. A few of my other favorite shows was “Watusi Rodeo”, “Feel My Heat”, and “Head Trip” with Christian B.
In the beginning of Indie’s history, they were very anti-corporate, sticking it to bland-ass KROQ in every way, playing real music, having original ideas (visit here for a complete rundown on the history of the station). They covered the waterfront when it came to different music genres – reggae, indie, alternative, punk, country, metal, Latin alternative, old shit, new shit. As time went on, though, you noticed a change. The suits running the station started to enforce more of a commercial-friendly playlist during the times that the featured/themed shows weren’t on. I woke up one morning to find that Dickie Barrett’s gravelly voice would no longer be gracing my eardrums – he had been fired over some BS. In my opinion, it all went downhill from that. Barrett was replaced by Joe Escalante, a member of The Vandals and host of the Friday show “Barely Legal Radio” where he would give advice pertaining to entertainment law. That dude was boring as FUCK!!! (sorry Mommy, but it’s true and there’s no other way to express that)
Shows were being dropped here and there, and then all of a sudden, they were gone. 103.1 is now El Gato. I still keep a memory button in my car dedicated to the frequency. There were a lot of theories as to why it happened, but the one that seemed to make the most sense to me had to do with ratings (Conan O’Brien, anyone?). Apparently, Arbitron changed the way they were measuring radio ratings, and according to their new system, people weren’t listening, meaning advertisers would see that data and forego buying ad space. This isn’t true, though; hundreds of thousands of people were listening, just not in the way that they were measuring: it’s like they had never heard of the internet! Nevertheless, Indie is no longer here, and that’s that.
I loved the hell out of Dickie Barrett and Steve Jones, they drove that station and made it as cool as it got. Warm feelings toward old white dudes I’ll never meet, and others. Rest In Peace, Indie, you rarely let me down and I’m culturally richer as a result of your efforts. Pouring a belated glass of red wine out on the curb for you, my friend.
PS – they’re online, but it’s not the same, dammit!
PPS – Jonesy’s Jukebox is now on KROQ (ew!) every Sunday for a couple hours in the evening. I haven’t checked it out yet. I should, because I love that dude. But that would involve me having to actually listen to KROQ…