Thursday, January 15, 2009

Whaaa? Indie Goes Digital

Imagine my surprise driving home this afternoon when I switched the car radio from KNX1070 (I listen for the traffic reports) to Indie103.1 and heard this announcement:
This is an important message for the Indie 103.1 Radio Audience -

Indie 103.1 will cease broadcasting over this frequency effective immediately. Because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, stations in this market are being forced to play too much Britney, Puffy and alternative music that is neither new nor cutting edge. Due to these challenges, Indie 103.1 was recently faced with only one option --- to play the corporate radio game.

We have decided not to play that game any longer. Rather than changing the sound, spirit, and soul of what has made Indie 103.1 great Indie 103.1 will bid farewell to the terrestrial airwaves and take an alternative course.

This could only be done on the Internet, a place where rules do not apply and where new music thrives; be it grunge, punk, or alternative - simply put, only the best music.

For those of you with a computer at home or at work, log on to and listen to the new Indie 103.1 - which is really the old Indie 103.1, not the version of Indie 103.1 we are removing from the broadcast airwaves.

We thank our listeners and advertisers for their support of the greatest radio station ever conceived, and look forward to continuing to deliver the famed Indie 103.1 music and spirit over the Internet to passionate music listeners around the world.

WTF?!?! The best damn station in the country just went digital! How can that be? They just celebrated five years on the air just a few weeks ago! Remember how we were all pinching ourselves back then? Hearing cool music on the radio for the first time in 20 years was sure great. They strayed a little in the last few years, but overall I had no complaints.

This totally screws me since I pretty much only listen to it when I'm driving--at home I tend to listen to CDs, but I guess that can change. Actually, I'm doubly screwed since I don't have a CD player or MP3 player in the car, I'll have no choice BUT the radio for tunes. KROQ pretty much blows now so make that no choices for tunes in the car.  Because I only have a iPod shuffle I can't hook it to an iTrip. So it is just the car radio for me--if KNX changes to a talk format like it is rumored it will, just shoot me, OK?

Enough about my sad story and back to the REAL ISSUE of corporate effing bean counters screwing up yet another good thing. The corporate doosh in this case is Arbitron and its new Portable People Meter (wasn't that a Sheb Wooley song?) method of measuring listeners. Instead of keeping handwritten diaries, the statistically selected listeners are now monitored electronically in their homes, cars and workplaces. Wow, talk about Big Brother! This means that the data is now more detailed and the stations are using that data to retain and gain audience share.

For instance at KROQ, The Kevin and Bean Show used to be on from 5:30am until 10am.  By using the PPM data they found that many people tuned out at 9am, so now the morning show ends at 9 and that last hour is moved to the 5pm slot. We listen to the Kevin and Bean Show at work and when it ends at 10 we turn off the radio and everyone listens to their own choices--iPod, streaming or sometimes nothing. So this change at KROQ just lost four listeners for one hour.

So, I guess Indie had a similar data reckoning and realized they were no longer able to remain viable in a broadcast format and still maintain the musical integrity that they started with. What is next for them--I don't know. Apparently this is day one of the new format. I've been streaming it for the last few hours and haven't heard anything but music--no commercials, DJ's or anything. They better not get rid of Steve Jones that's all I can say.


goldenrail said...

Don't worry, there are radio tuners you can get that attach via the headphones jack instead of like the iTrip (I have one for my zune/computer).
Another note, worth a concern - the music licensing and royalty rules for internet music are vastly different than those for terrestrial stations. I can only assume the station looked into this before deciding to make the change, but there could be some copyright issues that might prevent them from playing the same stuff they played on the radio or hinder their financial ability to support a digital station. (Internet radio has to pay song writers and performers and producers; terrestrial radio only has to pay writers. Additionally, the collective management organizations for writers are much more organized than the fairly new internet focused SoundExchange, which has more unpaid artists in its membership than paid ones.)

MaryRuth said...

GR--I sure hope they thought that part out before switching. I know a few of the Live365 stations and some other streaming sites I listened to had to stop due to this payment thing. I still get nervous when I post a podcast. I'm scared I'll end up cell-mates with Squeeky Fromme or something.
Dale is a member of BMI...I don't think he's seen even one penny though.
On another note--I saw a review of the "Remix" book about a month ago and thought.."boy, I think GR would like this, it's right up her alley". I guess I was right. I watched the video you linked on Twitter. Fascinating. This is a whole new way of thinking, especially for us old people. =)

Miss Healthypants said...

That does totally suck.

john said...

ya Ya, Join the world of frustration- everything gets down to dollars! We lost WFMR ( remember Yadmar?) about 2 yrs. back, the only Classical station within 500 mi. The reason again DEMOGRAPHICS! Bull Sh--. I have a CD player but can't use it since the redecorating !!! Dad Rat It All.

goldenrail said...

May I recommend, to everyone who's lost their favorite stations, Pandora. It won't work in the car (unless you have your own portable wireless connection), but it's great at home.
It tailors the radio to you. I love it (and was really upset when I couldn't use it in Nigeria because of, you guessed it, $$$ issues.)

MaryRuth said...

DAD--sure I remember WFMR! We need to set you up with a wireless network so you can have your iTunes upstairs and the speakers (new small ones to fit your new "decor") downstairs.
GR--it is the car radio stuff I miss...I really do like to listen to the whole mix of a station, the music, the DJs, and even the commercials. I will check out Pandora.

goldenrail said...

I know what you mean about the whole station - and the element of surprise in what they're going to play that you don't get with cds. Pandora does include some commercials now, short ones, but no DJs. Sometimes, I add old time radio commercials or skits into my mp3 playlists to break up the music a bit - to function like a DJ or commercial on the radio.