Can’t Live Without My Radio

Michael points to a post on Andy’s site about a new radio station in LA. I read regularly but for some reason missed this. I had been out of town and had almost 1000 RSS feeds to sort through and I think I saw the title mentioning “Clear Channel” and just skipped it. I’m glad Michael was there to catch my mistake.

103.1 FM is a newly reformated station that is supposed to be super indie, and will be charged with “bringing the alternative back to Los Angeles.” And for the next few weeks will have no ads, DJs, or anything except music. He says

“In Los Angeles, the “alternative” market has long been dominated by Infinity Broadcasting’s KROQ. In the last few years, it’s evolved into a corporate rock nightmare without any competition. Without an adequate alternative to the non-stop stream of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park clones, many listeners simply turned off their radios.”

I’ll be checking this out today because this could get really interesting, as Andy points out “If successful, Clear Channel’s “Indie” experiment may have surprising consequences across the nation’s radio landscape.”

15 thoughts on “Can’t Live Without My Radio”

  1. The signal is fairly weak. I was able to pick it up in the car, but not at home.

    On the drive in I heard: The Replacements, X, Dead Kennedys, Bob Marley, & Nirvana. There was also a new tune that I know, but don’t know the name of.

    Good stuff. It would be great with a better transmitter.

  2. Glad you brought this up, I’ve been listening to it and its nice to have another station I can stay on for a few songs – unfortunatley, this station use to play house tecno music and it’ll probably thrive for a year just to reformat and reinvent themselves when the going gets tough.

  3. Hey, check us out at for more detail and background. (Scroll down, we’ve got several posts about it and the demise of 103.1 KDL).
    Entravision technically still owns the station and is programming it, although Clear Channel is selling time. Legally, CC can’t touch the programming… but who knows what’s going on behind the scenes.
    Mike Halloran, who programmed Premium 92.1 in San Diego and briefly worked at Y107, was supposed to be in charge. But he and Entravision couldn’t come to terms. A former KIIS-FM programmer is handling things right now…

  4. Why-oh-why does this have to be a Clear Channel station? I so want to keep listening to it, but there’s no way I can do it with a clear conscience. I know it sounds tempting right now, but remember kids, the first taste is always free.

  5. Sean and I listened to this station a bit while we were off running errands today. They played a lot of Radiohead, Nirvana, and well Radiohead. I didn’t hear anything that was post-1996 with the exception of a Radiohead song (surprise!). So, all-in-all, there was Soundgarden, Nirvana, Radiohead, Weezer and the Ramones. Except for the Ramones, not too “independent” and pretty freakin’ mainstream (and a bit lame). And am I the only one who’s finding Radiohead annoying these days or is that just a terminally uncool thing to say? Hopefully they’ll get more of an idea of what they’re doing but I think that if someone wants something with an indie feel, then they should listen to KXLU whenever they don’t have the really off-beat stuff going on.

  6. I’m glad to get some background on this station. I’ve been listening since the recent format change happened and have been wondering wtf? with the station. They even played some Velvet Underground this morning. While I’ve enjoyed the change a bit and no commercials, 5000!’s comment really made me laugh. The first taste is free, indeed.

  7. no doubt this has been the best radio experience i have ever found. i feel like the old bad radio ads they used to play – tune us in, and tear off the knob!

    question for the masses: they have been playing this one irish folksy type song with mandolins and a chorus that goes something like “if i make it out of this life alive” or “if i get through this alive” or something (i’m always in my car when it comes on).

    if anyone knows this song and can email me the artist, i SWEAR free oral sex or my first born or eternal gratitude or something.

  8. Id like to post this to have a public record of it somewhere. Just want those that dont already know to know.

    Posts on LA Countys Empire Media Organization, XSFM, (Ok, so it was originally SoCal based in San Clemente, Then The Inland Empire, but it was definatley in LA County! Palmdale.) keep disappearing from messageboards, probably because somebody cursed in it or somthing. So I will try and do the right thing and say what I know without doing anything to offend these fine gentlemen that moderate the board.

    XSFM/The Empire Media Organization was an ëindependentí radio company that existed from 1999-2002. The business was registered in SoCal in the Inland Empire and LA County. XS pioneered a new (at the time) ëAlternativeí format, based on the original concept of Alternative, with a heavy lean on creating a hip, SoCal, Hollywood, beach, ëGen Xí and their parents that wont grow up, sound. Since ëAlternativeí at the time was no longer ëAlternativeí the ëAlternativeí hybrid was given the name ëSub-Urbaní based on the market and demo. XSFM & This format looked to the image that the California Board of Tourism spends Billions on promoting itself. The influences for the format were, Classic KROQ of the 80s, 91X, WLIR (LI, NY) 96 Wave (CíStun, SC), also XSFM drew its electronica from Groove Radio and Party 105 (LI, NY) along with choice cuts of underground & Old Skool hip hop.

    The imaging was hot. Using AV Deli, XS had a raw nasty street sound. Totally professional and tight, but raw. Reflective of the ënew styleí static, ground outs, no beats behind drops, voice all twisted and tweaked.

    The entire thing was funded by one person. Every single dollar came out of his pocket. Not corporate accounts or loans. He worked, earned money and re-invested it in The Empire Media Organization XSFM. XS had all the equiptment, nice studio, sweet little production room, set-up including a set up for satellite remote broadcasts! He was going to have a lot of DJs ërock the micí The names that XSFM had tabbed to round out the FT line up, (DJ Christian Love PD/MD was the voice of XS that was in the commercial spots for XSFM promo ëSHINEí that aired on CC stations, Gold Coast/HDB and Bob Adelmans station.Also hosetd the promotions) were Desiree Van Der Wahl, Jeff Duran (for XSFMs Hard Rock/Metal Show ëMidnight Massí) and Sal V. Sal V was to handle the Electronica show and spun at XSFM events, as was DJ Complex who would take care of Hip Hop. I was hoping Kimberly Stone would contact XS, but it didnít happen. The EMO was not in a po$ition to go pursuing talent.

    Everything was going well for the company, we had plenty of radio experience and some excellent marketing savvy. Talked with a bunch of SoCal radio people, PDs, owners, djs, ectÖ All agreed this new format targeted a demo that was not being served and had potential to make a lot of money. One of these people was Mike Halloran, XS had begun reciving very long winded e mails from him , a few months before XSFMs move to SoCal. in the spring of 2001, right after we had run some ads on and I belive Don Barretts,, plus a few others industry sites. At times Mike Halloran would say the right things, being ëall about the musicí, wanting to help the EMO, that he had connections in LA, but other times he would get egotistical, saying things like ëyou donít know who I amí, the useual radio ego fare. The emails got longer and more boring so I gave him a basic overview of XSFM and the new ëSub-Urbaní sound he had heard about on one of the industry sites. Nothing more then XS had shared, actually less then XS had shared, with a former LA radio station owner days or so earlier. (Again, info also shared with a fair amount of other helpful, professional LA radio people.) After this e mail from Halloran ceased, even when The Empire Media Organization contacted him there was no reply. XSFM received a lot of e mail after those AllAccess ads. People wanted to know about the new style, what the frequency was. Some people threatened litigation for fraud, claming there were no calls registered to The EMO and XSFM.

    The Empire Media Organization moved on. Setting up temporarily in Spring 2001 in San Clemente, then the Inland Empire, setting up perminant residence in LA county. I remember hearing Hallorans version of what XS was doing, he took the basic overview I had given him, ran to Art Astor and his corporate money and tried to make the idea his own. Hallorans version sounded terrible, a commercialized half-breed, bastardized version ëSub-Urbaní sound was supposed to be. Even 94/9 with its CHR imaging doesnít sound tight. You figure the resumes I sent him with XSFM imaging would have given him a better idea on how to ëround out the soundí then again he didnít know the half so what does it matter? Lol Plus HIS jocking. Whoa. He would never make the cut with XS. Its one think to be personable, its another to drone on endlessly.

    Anyhow..XS put together media/sales kits, built major league promotions with djs from both radio stations and clubs, from So Cal and all over the country, NY, Las Vegas, you name it. They had a working relationship with Clear Channel. CC was, and is, the leader in new radio technology, so it only made sense to work with them. CC has agreed to air spots for XSFM and its promotions, agreed to let The EMO use CCs logos in advertising XSFM, they had OKed a special live remote at Midnight for XSFM. The schedualing didnt work out and the live broadcast went to KRAJ FM, who were happy to have it. When HDB/Gold Coast got wind of XSFM they wanted to learn more and be a part. Even offering use of their logos for XSFM advertising. Ran spots on their station too. The EMO had opened lines of communication with XM about putting XSFM on their satellite service and were in the process of Adelphia when everything went terribly wrongÖ

    I walked into a meeting with Clear Channel expecting to talk about XM and what uses CC had for The EMO, XSFM and the ëSub-Urbaní format. Instead I get railroaded. 24 hours earlier the relationship with CC was sunshine and lollipops. Now, out of the blue, CC executives thought I was Mike Halloran and XSFM was some ëanti-corporate, anti-Clear Channelí thing . That The EMO was pulling the wool over their eyes! This could not have been further from the truth! The Empire Media Organization had been very open and honest with CC. Why not? They had everything to gain. XSFM was a good idea and these were the people to deal with in increasing XSFMs potential listenership. The EMO was pretty deep into its own bank account and knew CC had a hell of a lot deeper pockets. SO, after getting slammed by more people then I could count in that board room, my head was spinning (ìHow the did everything get this bad so quick??? Why???), I realized everything that years of work were being destroyed right in front of me. This was it, no CC, no XM, so far in debt that an internet operation would be tough. Sell the station van, burn the studio. My name was mud, I might not ever work in radio again. Why? There were times after this when I wished I was dead. Some people probably would have liked to have seen that, out of radio or dead. Left with no choice, 52 floors of corporate lawyers will do that to an ëindependentí radio owner. (A real independent radio owner.) , the Empire Media Organization & XSFM, cut its losses and ceased operations in early 2002.

    I moved on to take a morning gig at 100.1 The Zone. Did the thing that every radio on air talent does and kicked around to a few other SoCal stations. Spent some time on air in Bakersfield. Now I work for CC in LA. They have been good to me. Its nice to know that my name wasnít destroyed and Im still in radio. Oh yeah, I aint dead either.

    So when somebody tells you Halloran is some type of ëgeniusí and pioneered the format, stop and think. Does that make sense? He doesnít even know what the formats name is!

    Recalling conversations with a former Art Astor employee, ëHalloran was this guy who was basically washed up, on the outs. Then one day he just had this idea for this format. Nobody knows how. It was really weirdí Well, yeah. Because he didnít have an idea! This was a format that the Empire Media Organization had spent years building. He had a generic, commercialized version of ëSub-Urbaní and XSFM. Thatís why his versions have a shelf life of a few months.

    LaterÖIm going to try and get some snowboarding in. Priorities.

    Nick Spartan OM XSFM 1999-2002
    [email protected]

    DJ Christian Love PD/MD XSFM 1999-2002
    [email protected]

    T. Christopher Ginas Owner
    Empire Media Organization XSFM 1999-2002
    [email protected]

  9. Station has been on air for about a year now. Sounds like a mess. Frank Sinatra, Spanish Music, Techno, 80s pop….maybe the Indie staff friends at Rolling Stone and Spin will try and hype this cluster fuck of programming in their rags, but the reality is nobody is listening. A year later and they have lost half their listeners according to the official ratings system. Indie staff says its because their listeners are too busy to fill out ratings books. No, its because there are no listeners to fill out the books for them.

    More DJs on the station then listeners. Thats just fucking sad.

    I tuned in today and heard it sounded alot more commercial then I remember it. Heard an ad asking for advertisers too. Sounds tired. How come all they do is bitch and whine about KROQ? Slag on bands? Thats just gay. Is it true that Jonesy wants out of that shitting mess? I wouldn’t blame him. From cutting edge to crackhead programming in 365 days? They had a promo running for some one hit wonder indie pop rock song, some girl calling some band the next ‘Led Zep’. Get off the dope!!! Even the stuff running that says ‘Indie Sucks’…instead of laughing, I find myself agreeing.

    Even better, their ‘collector sticker logo’ and design and street team image, that was designed ‘exclusivly for Indie 103’ by the guy who made the ‘Andre the Giant Has A Posse’ Sticker has been used by another CC station in Salt Lake City for the past year. ‘CHANNEL 1057’ Same Logo and webpage design, bumpersticker, T Shirts, van, ect… . I think CC is already taking it down.

    Indie appears to have been blown off by everybody in the indie scene, techno scene, Alternative scene, punk scene, metal scene, hip hop scene, you name it. Proof? Look at the numbers!

    Indie is a pretender. There is nothing there. Originality? Go play some Beastie Boys. Then check out XM!!!

  10. Your station is growing on me. I love the two dj’s I listen to around 7AM in the morning. I love the weekend programs.

  11. Your station is growing on me. I love the two dj’s I listen to around 7AM in the morning. I love the weekend programs.

  12. I got a flier after the spoon show for this free show in silverlake w/ 20 bands and a fashion show on july 9th. all I remember seeing is that its at hq and Silver Needle is playing. ill probably head over cause cause Silver Needle is awesomerÖ plus you cant go wrong with free. Since theres 20 bands im guessing its all day but uíll probably have to hit the buzzplay or Silver Needle site to find out about that for sure.

  13. dear indie 1 year later,

    maybe true, maybe not, but it’s still a huge improvement over kroq (rage, offspring, green day, horrible new weezer song, repeat). over the last few months it seems like they’re getting gradually more commericial. that’s my only complaint.

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