The Case Against Indie 103.1

I’m with Carolyn Kellogg on this one. There’s been a lot of talk here, in posts and in the comments, about Indie 103.1 and if they are the best/worst thing to be happening to LA Radio. While I’ve recently come around to actually listening to the station because their programming is so damn good (due 100% to the DJs I’m sure), I’ve stopped short of voicing support for the station itself or the people behind it. I got a lot of shit from people early on for saying it was a ClearChannel station and I didn’t want anything to do with that. There was some argument about how much or little ClearChannel was involved but it’s obvious at this point they are involved. Which is why I would never send them a cent or wave any “Save Indie 103.1!” banners and yes, I’m still insulted that they use the word “indie” when they are anything but. So back to the topic at hand – Carolyn posted a few reasons she could care less if the station stays or goes. She says:

“1. ClearChannel explicitly said its goal was to suck ad dollars away from KROQ — to screw with the smaller conglomerate that owns KROQ. (Audio link). They don’t want to create an alternative rock station: they just want to weaken and kill someone else’s alternative rock station.

2. ClearChannel COULD keep Indie 103 going if it gave up one of its other 8 stations in the LA market. But they’re attached to KBIG, KFI, KIIS-FM, KOST, Star98 and the rest.

3. There are so many musical alternatives now (iPod, satellite radio, music on ye old internet) that it doesn’t make any sense that smart, creative Angelenos like Sullivan and rocker/blogger Dave Navarro have fallen under the spell of a corporate behemoth that’s just trying to crush the opposition.”

There’s a lot of names that I’d like to add to that list of people who need a good solid smack and to be asked “what the hell were you thinking climbing in bed with ClearChannel!!” but that’s a whole other issue isn’t it. The fact remains that ClearChannel is benefitting from this station and while flipping on the station is slightly easier than plugging in my iPod, if it went away tomorrow I wouldn’t be losing any sleep over it. The DJs are smart enough to figure out something else to do if need be.

Hell – I’ll even make the offer – Steve, Dave, Dickie – we’ll host your podcasts if you want to do that. Just think of the 10’s of people you could reach!!

6 thoughts on “The Case Against Indie 103.1”

  1. Nice to read someone with the same love/hate relationship of 103.1 as I do.

    Problem is, podcasting doesn’t create the same community buzz as radio, and it never will. Neither does satellite.

    Having local radio personalities talk about local shit while playing whatever they feel like is the only way to go. Unfortunately, monopolies like Clear Channel will never let this happen.

    The only hope is that podcasting and satellite makes radio eventually unprofitable for the big guys, but the perfect match for community based entrepreneurs.

  2. Clear Channel is NOT involved in the programming of the station, they’re involved in selling the advertisements ONLY.

    This comes from a friend of mine who works for one of their subcorps doing their finances.

    Honestly, all radio except for NPR is corporate-driven, and even NPR faces accusations from many about how its content is chosen, including KCRW. Singling out Indie 103 is a choice made only because of the station’s title claim. However, I don’t hear anyone complaining about KIIS or KBIG being too “corporate” because, point of fact, all they play is pop music–a genre too low for critics to get off their “independent” horses and deign to criticize for the usual reasons.

    Many believe in and support “independent” radio, but who do you expect to pay for it? I don’t see any group of people, besides loyal NPR/KCRW subscribers, who are willing to put down hard cash to support the kinds of music they want to hear on FM. If people really wanted an independent radio station, they’d be willing to pay for it. And it’s safe to assume that either KCRW meets this need entirely, or that people aren’t that motivated towards independent radio, or they’d be shelling out cash.

    The larger point is that iPod, satellite, and Internet radio is quickly overtaking FM Radio in popularity. iPods are price-convenient because they can replace whole media libraries AND function as radios, and Internet radio because it’s free. We’ll see how clear channel and others respond to those threats in a few years.

  3. What I hate about conglomerate radio is that it appeals to the lowest common denominator and, well, sucks. Indie doesn’t sound like conglomerate radio and their playlists sure don’t look like it. I’d support a smaller station if I found one that was any good, but until someone offers a comepting product, 103.1 is in their own world. Besides, Disney isn’t my favorite company on the planet, but that’s not going to keep me from watching “Lost.”

  4. I feel had. I specifically checked Indie out last time I was down there and I had no idea about the Clear Channel connection. When I found out a week or so ago about the station’s ownership, well, I felt a little dirty.

    I’ll cop to the fact that I do listen to other ClearChannel stations because I don’t have much of an option (though, given the choice of large conglomerates, I’ll take Infinity).

    All I can think of is the main introduction to ClearChannel, which, as I remember it, happened around 9/11 when – not that long after buying up most of the LA stations, they used their 9/11 relief fund to make sure the stations said “ClearChannel” no fewer than 190 times per hour.


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