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Ex-Indie 103.1 host Chris Morris on the end of the station

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Local rock station Indie 103.1 is going off the air. Upon hearing the news, Pop & Hiss gave a shout-out to journalist/DJ Chris Morris, who, until a few weeks ago, hosted roots/Americana specialty show Watusi Radio on the station. He recently wrote about the cancellation of his show in City Beat, and below is his reaction to this morning's news that Indie 103.1 is going online only.

I tuned in the station just before 10 this morning to find its cast of announcers and regulars -- T.K., Mr. Shovel, Darren Revell, Party Girl Stacey, Surf Junkie Jeff, Full Metal Jackie -- saying farewell.

Then, after airing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” the station began cycling a prerecorded announcement, between rotating attitude-packed tracks by X, the Clash, Buzzcocks, Black Flag, and the Sex Pistols (“Anarchy in the U.K.” and Sid Vicious’ “My Way”). Indie, L.A.’s much-beloved independent rock station, was leaving the terrestrial airwaves, effective immediately, and migrating to the Internet.

Indie’s on-air adieu blamed “the way radio audiences are measured” -- i.e., last fall’s institution by Arbitron of the controversial portable people meters, or PPMs, which replaced diaries as ratings devices in the Los Angeles market and measured an even smaller percentage of the station’s tiny but loyal audience. In what amounted to a bleakly amusing mea culpa on the part of chain owner Entravision, it admitted that the station had been forced “to play the corporate radio game,” and that the retooled station of recent months -- shorn of several specialty shows (including mine) and pumped up with KROQ-style ’90s hits -- was little more than a “version of Indie 103.1 [that] we are now removing from the broadcast airwaves.”

Apparently, some new edition of Indie is set to broadcast on the Web at www.indie1031.com. Its frequency will now likely be filled by the Spanish-language programming I’d anticipated last month.

All very sad, and quite predictable.

For most of its existence, Indie 103.1 advanced a style of radio in its specialty programming that hadn’t been seen in a major radio market for eons. What was heard on the air was a reflection of the individual jocks’ tastes and passions. The amount of liberty I enjoyed was unbelievable. It was a throwback to the free-form style I grew up with, which held sway briefly in pre-“album oriented” radio in the ’70s; the maverick early KROQ flashed the same gunslinging approach.

And, until desperation set in during the late going, the station’s regular rotation sported some provocative tracks and off-the-wall features that Indie’s crosstown rivals wouldn’t touch. (The choice of “My Way” as a farewell track recalled the era of Indie’s “Furious Frank at Five” -- a daily afternoon dose of Sinatra.) But, as station management learned the hard way, cool programming alone can’t trump 30 years of listener loyalty, marketing money and a strong signal.

So now Indie hopes to flourish on the Web -- “a place where rules do not apply and where new music thrives,” in the station’s words -- by returning to the style it had sloughed off in pursuit of terrestrial ratings that never arrived. I wish my old colleagues luck in their renewed endeavors. (We’ll be working the same turf: My own post-Indie show “Hillbilly Deluxe” debuts on Scion Radio 17, the Web station operated by Toyota’s Scion car line, in February.)

It remains to be seen what form Indie 2.0 will take, and whether its star jocks like Steve Jones -- who won’t be able to command the same kind of bucks in cyberspace -– will remain on board. But it’s apparent that in the cutthroat world of radio, going to the Internet may be the only way to go for programmers with an edge to them.

-- Chris Morris, Special to Pop & Hiss

 
Comments () | Archives (61)

a sad, sad day. whenever im out of town i miss this station as it is the ONLY one worth listening to.

The Idocracy (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/) is coming.

I will miss Indie on my commute, but I won't miss Steve Jones and his incomprehensible ramblings. If he was a stud in his day, he should have been put out to pasture long ago. Good luck with the online format--

NOOOOO!!! Indie 103.1 cannot go off the airwaves!
We need you! You guys play indie/underground bands that need attention.
Also you play old stuff music that I grew up listening to. That's what L.A. needs, a radio station that plays unheard and older bands.
I was in the military, stationed in Texas. In Austin, they have a station similar to Indie..
The station in Austin they play underground and older bands as well. Come people, this is L.A.!
I guess I have to purely listen to my Mp3 player, and listen to Indie online whenever I can.

So Long and thanks for all the shoes! Not one day went by where i hadn't Listened to Indie 103.1 fm. Wish all you guys the very best in every walks of life. ToT

A sad day indeed. KROQ doesn't hold a candle to Indie 103.1 and as a matter of fact, blows.
David, yes Steve Jones is incomprehensible, but he did play some interesting picks.

This REALLY sucks! Indie 103.1 was the only station for me. Oh well, back to KROQ.

I cannot believe it. Four months ago I moved from Detroit where radio died a slow, lingering, painful death and finally gave its last cough a few years ago. When I got here I put my car radio on scan and couldn't believe my ears - there was somebody out there! Humans, talking like humans (so yeah, sometimes rambling, sometimes obnoxious, but *alive* and delicious because of it), picking their own records to play, all wonderfully unpredictable and fun. As much as traffic here sucks, I enjoyed being in it for the radio time it gave me. Today when I turned on the radio and heard the rotating message I really hoped it was just a marketing gimic, but the internet told me it was true. What a blow. If I had a computer in my CAR I might not mind so much ... maybe someone could tell the Big 3.

Jonesy's Jukebox could fix my most worthless day. Now what? Damn.

I love Indie, but why are they playing Green Day? I could listen to KROQ for that!

I cannot believe it. Four months ago I moved from Detroit where radio died a slow, lingering, painful death and finally gave its last cough a few years ago. When I got here I put my car radio on scan and couldn't believe my ears - there was somebody out there! Humans, talking like humans (so yeah, sometimes rambling, sometimes obnoxious, but *alive* and delicious because of it), picking their own records to play, all wonderfully unpredictable and fun. As much as traffic here sucks, I enjoyed being in it for the radio time it gave me. Today when I turned on the radio and heard the rotating message I really hoped it was just a marketing gimic, but the internet told me it was true. What a blow. If I had a computer in my CAR I might not mind so much ... maybe someone could tell the Big 3.

Jonesy's Jukebox could fix my most worthless day. Now what? Damn.

Sad, but true - A loyal listener since the beginning, they did become more "corporate" (whatever that means). Toward the end I could only listen for a week at a time before I got sick of "sex on fire" and whatever other 2 singles were in heavy rotation.

The only great parts that survived to the end were Jonesy and Henry Rollins. Everyone else was replaced by pseudo jed-the-fish-38-year-old-pretending-to-be-22-year-old wanna-be KROC DJ's.

Thanks for the memories, indie!

I am soooo upset. When it first started out I truly believed Indie 103.1 was a radio station put on this earth just for me. I loved the rotation of classics like the clash and bob marley and the replacements along side newer great music like radiohead and arcade fire and lykke li. I am sad for LA. Its depressing that we live in a age when a truly interesting radio station can't stay on the air but the garbage pumped through Kiss fm and kroq makes it. This sux

Chris,

Watusi Radio and Passport Approved were without a doubt my two favorite shows on Indie. I will sorely miss this radio station. I got to see some really great shows and was introduced to some truly innovative and refreshing new music because of them. Someday Corporate Radio won't rule the airwaves. I hope Indie will be around to see that time. I will look for your show on Scion Radio. Best of luck!

Steve Jones and Joe Escalante where the best thing to ever hit the air waves. You guys deserve much better then the rest of the crap played on Indie 103. It was fantastic the first 2 years...... then to many commercials and Oingo Boingo crap! sounded like KROC at the end. Who needs that main stream crap. looks like KXLU is the only station to last. 88.9 and 89.9 thats it.

So long Indie, for now.

Long time listener from Philly and frequent LA visitor. Ironically, I won't be able to hear Indie when visiting LA, but only when at home in Philly.

Good luck Indie and all the great DJs.

So THAT'S why they were playing Kings of Leon every hour....

Let's not forget The Smiths lyrics from the song PANIC:
(Lyrics by Stephen Morrissey, Music by Johnny Marr)
....Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again ?
.....I wonder to myself

Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
IT SAYS NOTHING TO ME ABOUT MY LIFE
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music they constantly play

On the Leeds side-streets that you slip down
Provincial towns you jog 'round
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ

Ok - so lets hang the DJ's from KROQ, KISS, 93.1, etc....
R.I.P. Indie. My 5 year old son will MISS ya - rocky

Thank you kroq for stealing all of the hits that indie has created. thank you to the big fat cats that realized that good music is actually terrible. oh and special thanks to indie for making my life happier while it was on the air!!! theses times will be missed...

Again, an original, cutting edge radio station in LA is finished. Now, we have stale KROQ again,,, land of 5 minutes of commercials and where the DJs talk too much and when they talk they don't sound witty....just boring. Uggh.

Thanks for the great programming 103.1 . The station had just the right mix of old and new....and not what stale KROQ would consider old and new. It was a joy to drive to and from work with a radio station that was actually good...quite a feat in LA radio.

RIP Indie, we will miss you.

Today was like having to sit with a near and dear family pet as they died. It hurt. It just hurt to see something we all cared about so much die such a sad death. When Joe Escalante and Feel My Heat went off I knew it was near. I could tell the corporate cancer was spreading faster than we could save it and it was time to stop fighting and just try to enjoy the swan song, and cherish the memories. The Wal Mart's of the world are slowly taking over everything that ever had soul, or that pushed boundaries, because they know the sheep wont follow it.

Indie was the best station I ever listened to. I listened to every single show (save maybe full metal jackie's metal show). The station was on all the time, but it was quite painful in recent months when they dumped a majority of great djs and fantastic new music for 15 year old pearl jam, smashing pumpkin and nirvana songs. They never ended up playing Linkin Park, but I wonder how close they got. I did still tune in on occasion in hopes the old sound would return and of course for the few shows on Sunday, but had really gone to online radio. And that's where I received the news today while listening to woxy.com, who ironically enough had gone through a similar thing years earlier. Now online, they have have like four core djs and are supported by an online music retailer. Perhaps indeed can do the same. Online radio needs djs.

Just what L.A. needs, another Spanish language radio station. I'm sure they will make lots of money. I had given up on radio except for NPR until Indie came on, it was just what I needed. Now that it's gone I guess I'll switch back to the MP3's and the political opinions to get me through the day. KROQ is crap and not any kind of substitute.

this is a sad day for LA

internet. unless they can do something my several hundred gigs of music and hundreds of LP's cant do. then whats the point. In other words, introduce me to new music (good new music) tell me about the music and the band. tell me about concerts. Be the voice of my music geek friends and be interactive. dont just play music, my MMF 9 can do that, and better!

the best part about indie was community service on friday nights! that was a bad ass show....but i never got indie on my radio....so thats why i listen to indie on the net.....people if you want new music go to kcrw.com...now kcrw is my fav radio station......

late
indie

 
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