A brief history of 103.1 on the FM dial

10:43am: UPDATES/CORRECTIONS AFTER THE JUMP

kdl1.jpgIn the aftermath of the Dicky Barrett firing and the listener backlash against Indie 103, DJ Whammy of Surge Radio chimes in with a guest post about the past, present, and future of 103.1. From its 1960s inception as an easy listening station through its multiple acclaimed 90s format as dance and techno station, to it’s current status (and arguable decline) as Indie, Whammy has got the goods for you…

If you aren’t familiar with the history of 103.1’s past identities, here u go…..

103.1 KDLD Santa Monica/KDLE Newport Beach before the days if Indie 103.1

In the 1960s 2 radio stations were born, 1 in the community of Santa Monica and 1 in the community of Newport Beach.

103.1 FM KSRF Santa Monica (K-Surf 103.1) playing a EZ format and 103.1 FM KOCM Newport Beach (103.1 The Ocean) playing a contemporary format. In 1990, these 2 radio stations were joined together into 1 station called Mars FM (which plays a Dance/Alternative format, kinda like what Indie plays today except with more Techno). In 1994 it died and became Jazz FM (Jazz format, needless to say).

Changing formats again, it became Channel 103.1 playing Hot AC format (kinda like KBIG 104.3 now). Then Swedish Egil, the program director from Mars FM came back and started his own Dance/Electronica format Groove Radio 103.1 which was later bought out by Clear Channel and turned into a Hot AC format again called CD 103.1 but was sold to Entravision because Clear Channel owned too many radio stations in the Los Angeles market. Entravision turned it into Super Estrella 103.1, which lated moved to 107.1 FM. Entravision turned 103.1 into a Dance music format again, as a surprise for the people that missed Groove Radio, and they called it KDL 103.1 – The Party Station.

In October 2003, Clear Channel stepped in again because KDL was causing too much competition for KIISFM and paid Entravision several million dollars to change formats to a Rock leaning one, to direct the competition away from Clear Channel’s KIISFM and point it to Infinity’s KROQ (like Dicky said, it was to be a short lived pain in the bumbum for Infinity). All of KDL’s airstaff was dismissed, and KDL ended with the song “James Brown is Dead” by Lords of Acid. After several minutes of dead air, the song “Punk Rock Christmas” came on, and for several weeks it was a 10 song playlist over and over and over with really fast IDs that said “Independent Radio”. Entravision added an extra 700 watts to KDLD in Santa Monica (totaling 3700 watts), and moved KDLE’s tower down to the southern outskirts of Newport Beach and lowered the power from 2000 watts to 300 watts (probably because they care more about hitting Los Angeles than Orange County). They started building on their playlist and adding personalities and thus Indie 103.1 was born.

103.1 FM is famous for introducing the USA to full time Dance radio format with Groove Radio and KDL. Now you can find Energy 92.7 in San Francisco, Party 105.3 in Calverton NY, 103.5 KTU in New York City, Energy 92.7/101.1 in Phoenix, and Pulse 1330 AM in Enumclaw all with the dance radio format, there are probably more but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

I know for a fact that Indie will meet its doom shortly in the days to come…if not sooner then later. After they fired Dicky, this is probably going to lead to Indie’s downfall. 103.1 has changed formats so many times, what evidence is there to believe that it won’t do so again?

Whammy is now hoping that the dance format returns to somewhere on the Los Angele dial, and will cry no tears if it means the end of Indie (as does blogger Bank of Kev).

DJ Whammy can be heard on Surge Radio from Monday thru Thursday, 8pm – 10pm

UPDATED (10:43am): Mike from Franklin Ave. commented with some corrections:

Sorry, he doesn’t get it right.
103.1 was MARS-FM around 1990-92, then became “Jazz FM” for a time.
Then, from around 1994-96, the station was “CD 103.1,” a Hot AC playing KBIG/KOST style music.
In summer 1996, Swedish Egil brought his “Groove Radio” to the station. “Groove Radio” evolved into “Groove 103.1” by mid-1997 (with Egil leaving)…
But in 1998, Clear Channel bought the station and flipped it to “Channel 103.1,” under the direction of Nicole Sandler. A “Adult Album Alternative” station (think Dave Matthews Band), the station picked up where the late 101.9 left off.
But Clear Channel owned too many stations in the market, and was forced to sell to Entravision in 2000. Entravision flipped the frequency to Spanish (“Super Estrella”) — but the signal is so weak, the company decided to do something different in 2003 and import its successful Dallas dance format here, and renamed the station “KDL.”
The dance format only lasted a year, however, as Clear Channel re-entered the picture and signed a deal to sell ad time and program 103.1. Hence, “Indie 103.1” was born at the start of 2004.
As we all know by now, Clear Channel eventually had to drop its involvement in Indie, and that’s where we are today.

23 Replies to “A brief history of 103.1 on the FM dial”

  1. Sorry, he doesn’t get it right.
    103.1 was MARS-FM around 1990-92, then became “Jazz FM” for a time.
    Then, from around 1994-96, the station was “CD 103.1,” a Hot AC playing KBIG/KOST style music.
    In summer 1996, Swedish Egil brought his “Groove Radio” to the station. “Groove Radio” evolved into “Groove 103.1” by mid-1997 (with Egil leaving)…
    But in 1998, Clear Channel bought the station and flipped it to “Channel 103.1,” under the direction of Nicole Sandler. A “Adult Album Alternative” station (think Dave Matthews Band), the station picked up where the late 101.9 left off.
    But Clear Channel owned too many stations in the market, and was forced to sell to Entravision in 2000. Entravision flipped the frequency to Spanish (“Super Estrella”) — but the signal is so weak, the company decided to do something different in 2003 and import its successful Dallas dance format here, and renamed the station “KDL.”
    The dance format only lasted a year, however, as Clear Channel re-entered the picture and signed a deal to sell ad time and program 103.1. Hence, “Indie 103.1” was born at the start of 2004.
    As we all know by now, Clear Channel eventually had to drop its involvement in Indie, and that’s where we are today.
    I’m sorry, but the Indie-bashing is getting old. This is a very unique station in the commercial radio world, unfortunately stuck on a weak signal and not making much of a dent in the ratings. Thankfully, Entravision is sticking with it for now — but I’m always in fear that I’ll turn on the radio one day and once again here Spanish (or brokered programming) on 103.1. Let’s hope Entravision sticks with it.

  2. I’m sure Indie will end soon as that’s the trend and Entravision’s CEO has mentioned that if Indie doesn’t do well in terms of ad sales, then it’s flipping. It’s too bad, but if they do flip, hopefully one of the satellite radio stations picks up the hosts.

    Indie has electronic shows on Friday night (w/The Crystal Method) and even an all night dance music on Saturdays (Element Radio).

    Dance just isn’t worth it anymore, as there’s hardly a market for it. They really messed up dance here in the states by playing some of the cheesiest electronic music (KDL was one). Now when people think of dance, they get a different perspective. They should of took a tip from British, French, German, and Australian radio stations who knew what they were playing.

  3. Dear Los Angeles Clear-Infinity-Channel-corporate-whatever Gods,

    I want a radio station that plays what the “doomed” Indie is playing. I am a consumer with cash to burn, I will listen to your station and buy things from your sponsors. I have tons of peers that will do the same.

    Why is this so difficult? Believe me, you do have an audience. Please stop f-ing with us.

    Frustrated listener

  4. Unfortunately, Kelly, 103.1’s Arbitron numbers seem to disagree with the idea that there are a ton of your peers willing to do the same.

  5. wow you forgot to mention when Groove radio went offline there was a loop of the Spice Girls playing for a whole day “Tell me what you want, what you really really want [squeal screech crunch beep] Tell me …” That was rad.

  6. Ivan, I still miss Y107 too.

    I kinda liked Channel 103.1 back in ’98. But I like Indie because I know I’ll never be sucked into listening to Fall Out Boy et al.

  7. (I’m the DJ Whammy guy that wrote the letter above)

    I remember listening to Super Estrella 103.1 on my way back from San Diego one day, then I came across KDL 103.1 on the internet the next year.

    I turned on my walkman while I was sitting at LAX in November 2003, the signal was staticy as heck, but I was listening to some female DJ saying “its a win nothing weekend” or something like that. The music was awesome, then I had to board the plane and I was off to Norway for 2 months. A few days before Christmas, I got off the plane, after a 45 minute delay in the flight (its usually 9 hours from Oslo), I turned on 103.1 and I came back to some rock music. I really like rock and all, but this wasn’t even a good kind of rock.

    I wish somebody would bring back Dance radio….hopefully on a signal that will reach up to Lancaster where I live. I recommend that Joe Amaturo from 92.7 turn that Jill FM station into a dance station. The signal really sucks because, kinda like Indie they operate on 3 Class A stations (Indie operates on 2). Their 280 Watt KELT in Adelanto gets a signal out here. Their KLIT transmitter is on the same mountain as KDLE, except KLIT has 690 watts (KDLE has 300 watts). Hmmmm, the call letters are KLIT….ITS KLIT-FM! THE ORGASMIC PARTY STATION….wait, scratch that. Their other one is KMLT which is 3100 Watts out of Thousand Oaks, with a 38 watt booster in Malibu.

    I was never actually able to hear KDL 103.1 out here in Lancaster, because out here they got KTPI which has 1900 watts blasting out of a tower in Tehachapi….I get to listen to some nice country music out here. They got the Edge 100.1 but thats like a more repetitive form of KROQ and has worse music, with that morning DJ Kimberly Stone….. People out here like listening to metal more than alternative rock, and they refuse to even have a metal show. What is up with the radio business these days?

  8. One And All,
    Given the sensitive nature of most people/bloggers on the internet, I will attempt to tone down my comments. No, the reference to aforementioned people/bloggers was not a reference to any of you personally; but, even on this site, there have been a number of folks with thin skins who can only handle that with which they agree, so I am just covering my ass….

    (but, god, i fucking hate the internet; i really, really do….)

    Discussing the history of a radio station/frequency, with all the many corporate buyouts and fuckswaps is a bit like trying to map a relevant through-line for a college basketball or football team. We can all discuss the historical effects of the Notre Dme/Michigan State 10-10 tie back in 1966, and try and put it into some sort of historical perspective– but, it’s fucking impossible, isn’t it?

    The players are now around 60 years old, Ara Parseghian is all but dead; and, there is no connection to be drawn to such a modern matchup between the two schools that would mean even the least bit of anything.

    So it goes with the history of an oft-traded radio frequency/concern. Like high school memories (with the possible exception of those regarding Kentucky or Mississippi), everyone from 30-40 years ago has moved on, so it is a brand new day….

    And a rather dark one, at that.

    And, at the end of such a day, the only question that remains is this: How could anyone (and I mean ANYONE) be somehow disappointed by the fact that a massive corporate entity that simply decided to name one of it’s holdings “Indie” , be at all disappointed that said corporate entity, in the end, decided to act like a money-scrounging corporation when they panicked on Dicky Barrett and nudged push into shove?

    They’re a big corporation, bound to twist to the whim and so-called ‘brave’ ideas turned out by middle-management types who only wish to go home before midnight– and so they’ll say anything to appease and induce such an outcome!

    Afterbirth-eating monkey swimming in donkey shit? Sign him up!

    Unfunny fat retard Andy Milonakis pitches a show where he “channels” Paris Hilton while playing the Thompson Twins? Sign him up!

    Etc., etc…..

    I could easily go on; but, hopefully at least some of you will get the point, which is this:

    CORPORATE STATION ENTITY TRYING TO SEPARATE YOU FROM YOUR PAYCHECK WORKING AT Y QUE BY NAMING THEIR TROJAN HORSE OF A RADIO STATION “INDIE”.

    Like Hitler starting a Klezmer band, 103.1 has, from the first day, been nothing other than a big, dangerous lie– designed to suck in as many off the fringe as it can, simply because of the brand name of “Indie”.

    It’s like some sort of fucking cult.

    Call it “Jonesytown”, call it whatever you like; but, it still has all been a grand lie.

    You can either continue drinking their Kool-Aid and die with them; or you can all walk away and let them die on their own….

    If some of us are all so quick to chastise other corporation that have lied (Enron, etc.), why would any of us give this one any sort of break?

    Call it apples/oranges if you like; but, tell me this: If Enron had a podcast called “Skilling’s Jukebox”, would that be enough to convince you to stick around?

    chris checkman

  9. Chris C, I will take your word that your station provides a truly uplifting listening experience, worthy of the ears of the gods and West LA. Alas your Olympic station does not deign to broadcast to Orange County, where 1031 has been a real treat compared to the alternatives. It might be hard to imagine the rustic conditions down here, but some MMS refugees are seriously talking about switching from Dickie to NPR and their nonstop rotation of war, abortion, environmental scare, and aids *for their morning ride to work*. According to Arbitron, there are even people who listen voluntarily to Kevin and Bean.

    Anybody think there is a chance of talking KCRW into moving MBE back a few hours? That might be an easier mountain to move than 1031.

  10. Basically nothing seems worth thinking about. I haven’t been up to much these days. I just don’t have much to say right now. I can’t be bothered with anything , but whatever.

  11. I’m with you Kaka. Besides, why think when you can have Chris Checkman do your thinking for you? I must admit, however, that I did find his Hitler reference ironic, considering how reading his diatribe conjured visions of him standing at the podium in Nuremberg. Ein volk, ein radiostationen, Ein Checkman!

  12. YAWN: Now that I am under the ‘500 character’ rule for replies, I must be brief:

    You are typical of all headless internet idiots: Ignore the argument, bitch about being inconvenienced (how?) by the method of conveyance. Why not just scroll past?

    ME as Hitler? Hitler was the front man for the ultimate coporate machine; while I am railing against…

    The ultimate corporate lying fakejob.

    If you can’t see that, you are too stupid to live.

    chris checkman

  13. YAWN: I should also point out that I was only thinking for myself; and then I merely stated my opinions. If I had had just tra-la-la’ed my words into some sort of soft, squishy short-form position paper of utter agreement, would you still be bashing me?

    No. To me, the internet is a place to meet and discuss things. To you, and your tiny tapered head, the internet is only supposed to be about conformity and compliance with the pack mentality.

    Well, here I am, YAWN; arms tied behind me by the site, still opposing you and all other narrow-minded idiots.

    Debate is not about blind agreement; debate is about an exchange of ideas.

    Maybe that means nothing to you; but, given the level of your responses, it’s not all that surprising…

    chris checkman

  14. Again Chris C, I think we can all agree to take as a given that your feet don’t touch the ground, angels gather your hair clippings to sew garments for G-d, and your song selections cure cancer. But we are here talking about changes many consider detrimental to a radio station that millions of people could actually get in their radios, even plebes in Santa Ana. So if you don’t mind, make a contribution to that discussion or levitate yourself away and heal the sick or turn some loaves into fishes or something.

  15. I MISS MARS 103.1 FM. I WAS IN JUNIOR HIGH, WHEN IT WAS STILL CALLED JR. HIGH, NOT STUPID “MIDDLE SCHOOL” WHAT TYPE OF CRAPOLA IS THAT!

    ANYWAYS MARS FM AND I GREW UP TOGETHER, AND IT DID NOT DIE, SOME STUPID LOS ANGELES RESIDENTS WANTED THE STATION CLOSED FOR INDESCENCY OR SOME CRAP THEY MADE UP, THERE ARE WORSE STATIONS OUT THERE RIGHT NOW, AND WHERE ARE THOSE STUPID RESIDENTS NOW. MARS FM ALSO HELPED “SNAPPLE” BECOME FAMOUS, THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES WHOM PLAYDE THEIR COMMERCIALS. WELL THAT IS IT…..”MEMORIES, NOTHING MORE BUT MEMORIES……”

  16. DAVID MARKLAND: If by ‘civilized debate’ you mean everyone saying exactly what they want to say, except me. Concise? By “concise” do you mean that which does not tax those who either cannot read something of length, or figure out on their own how to just bypass it? Early on, you seemed to voice words of encouragement my way; if your view has changed, do not try and smack me because my methods have not. Read what you want/can handle, and bypass the rest. Yeah, it really IS that simple, Dave….

    chris checkman

  17. HERR LICHTENSTEIN: Please re-read some of my most recent posts; then re-read your most recent post to me. Do they bear any resemblance or relative connection to one another?
    No. It seems you are just another sensationalist internet idiot who pretends to see all the words he is trying to read; but, in the process of such an apparently-taxing act as reading, seems to forget the ENTIRE thing, and decides to just respond with whatever low grade, crowd-pleasin’ rhetoric manages to make the 15 watt bulb in his otherwise empty head kind of flash a little.
    Christ, you are an idiot; but what really raises you to the level of supreme idiocy is your vigorous defense of a station that had already let you and everyone else down before any one of us ever even heard of it!

    Free speech-hating corporate bigwigs decide to co-opt the notion of ‘indie’, wrap a big market high-concept station around it, sell you a bill of empty goods– and somehow I’m the bad guy here because (unlike the station I allegedly work for), at least they can potentially reach millions of listeners?
    Yeah, the station I allegedly work for has only a 3000 watt transmitter. We most certainly would like to go bigger; but, since when is lack of liquid capital an actual capital crime– especially when so-called “art” is involved?

    Who gives a shit if “Indie” has a greater potential geographic reach if, by their very construct, they are in fact, a lie? A lie designed to pull in naive folk such as yourself, who are seemingly blind to their ever-tightening playlist/format and those always-appreciated 16-20 minutes per hour given over to commercials!

    Listen to KXLU or don’t; as I don’t care– but don’t try and somehow paint fake-“Indie” as some sort of decent, ahem!, ‘alternative’, simply because they have a stronger transmitter either, you dope!

    Knock me all you want; but, you don’t know me or what I love about doing radio. Yabble all you want; but, should you ever be so stupid as to yap again, at least know the facts: “Indie” is slang/shorthand for “independent”– as in “independent of corporate/commercial influence…”, so…

    Who, with an actual brain, gives a shit if 103.1fm is available to more cars/home stereos/etc. than KXLU; as they still are a shit corporate ripoff of a station, playing mostly lame music, tightening the nooses around the necks of their on-air talent, and narrowing ever more the parameters of what they consider “indie” as a way to selling to idiots like you.

    As much as I utterly LOATHE the local Jack station (93.1fm), at least they admit what they are; while the big grand corporate machine behind your misguided, fake independent station you slurp so hard just keeps lying to you– and you just keep licking off the wet spot.

    Keep enjoying the corporate snot paste they snowball down your throat, you bottom-feeder; until, of course, they rip the rip from under you.

    From your limp words, I get the feeling you’ll really love hearing Josh Groban, as at least “millions” of you will have such a dubious opportunity to do so…

    All the way from here to Santa Ana.

    Yeah, enjoy the mediocrity you’ve supported and fostered….

    chris checkman

  18. Ugh. Enough already. It’s apparent that Mr. Checkman does not comprehend that it’s his attitude, not his viewpoint, that has rubbed so many posters the wrong way. Since the likelihood of him becoming cognizant of this fact is nil, I suggest we all ignore him and maybe he’ll go away.

  19. I use to listen to groove radio all the time in 2002, there are tons of songs that they use to play that you just dont hear on any other stations here in Los Angeles. Is there any way to find old playlists, i have searched online and cant seem to find any helpful info. miss the music

  20. Just to continue the spirited defense.

    I caught the morning show Monday and it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t notice the host at all, which is a big improvement over what it had been like since the end of March.

    Anyway I think this station’s days are numbered. What are other people doing to cope? I was half serious about trying to get KCRW to move MBE earlier a few hours, but there are so many people addicted to hearing a solid rotation of war and disease in the morning so they might be unchangeable. But maybe there is another station that could be influenced?

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