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Update: Indie 103.1 is going off the air

January 15, 2009 | 10:51 am

Indie 103, the high-profile but low-rated alternative-music radio station, ceased original programming Thursday morning, a little more than five years after it debuted, but said it will continue life on the Internet.

At 10 a.m. the station bowed out by playing “My Way,” both the versions by Frank Sinatra and late Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, a nod to the genre-bending playlist that Indie often aired. After that, listeners heard only a repeating loop of songs, interspersed by a recorded announcement that Indie was moving to the Internet, painting the station as a valiant martyr sticking to its programming principles rather than “play the corporate radio game,” and blaming an industry and a ratings system that it said favors Britney Spears, P-Diddy and “alternative music that is neither new, nor cutting edge.”

From its start in December 2003, Indie -- an FM simulcast at 103.1 of KDLD in Santa Monica and KDLE in Newport Beach – was a curiosity: a commercial station that played modern rock, punk, metal, country and other types of alternative music, sprinkled among various eclectic programs. It also featured an unlikely owner, the Santa Monica-based Spanish-language broadcasting chain Entravision Communications.

In addition to its varied programming, the station featured an airstaff that included actor Danny Masterson, musicians Dave Navarro and Rob Zombie, and former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, who held court middays on “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” Indie’s signature show.

Even among its fans, the station often seemed too good to be true, and too niche to last forever. But it held on longer than its predecessors – the 103.1 frequency was home to four different stations in the five years before Indie launched, the most-recent a dance station named KDL, also owned by Entravision. Part of the challenge for all the stations was the poor reception for the signal throughout many parts of the Los Angeles-Orange County market.

The station cultivated an aura of hipness and iconoclasm – great for making a small and loyal audience feel like part of an exclusive club, but not necessarily a good business model. In the most recent Arbitron ratings, Indie ranked 38th in the market, averaging just 0.6% of the listening audience, compared to the 3.5% for alternative music outlet KROQ-FM (106.7).

Entravision declined to say what the station’s new format would be or when it would go on the air.

—Steve Carney