Author Topic: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss  (Read 7753 times)

Bags

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"Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« on: January 12, 2004, 02:15:00 pm »
January 12, 2004
 Radio Sees Nirvana of the 90's in Its Future
 By CHRIS NELSON
 
 For radio listeners in Seattle, the end of 2003 brought the Invasion of the Aging Hipster Bands.
 
 On Dec. 18 at noon, the modern rock station KNDD-FM "the End" announced on the air that it was returning to its roots. Dumped immediately were rap rock and modern metal bands like Limp Bizkit and Puddle of Mudd. They were replaced by familiar voices from the alternative rock explosion of the early 1990's: Nirvana, R.E.M., Weezer and Beck, as well as predecessors like the Clash and Sex Pistols.
 
 The next day, Seattle's KYPT-FM "the Point" bid farewell to Prince, Madonna and the other pop and rock acts on its 1980's playlist, switching to a similar "classic alternative'' format. The station also adopted the fresh call letters KRQI and the new nickname "K Rock."
 
 On the same day, a similar change was occurring at Atlanta's WNNX-FM "99X." Just over a year ago, San Diego's KBZT-FM "FM 94-9" made the same move.
 
 While the number of stations embracing the "classic alternative" format is small so far, industry executives expect a significant jump in the coming years. Both the End and 99X are considered bellwether outlets. "For them to shift in this direction is like the shot heard 'round the world,'' said Max Tolkoff, a columnist for the trade publications Radio & Records.
 
 Like the classic rock format that started in the mid-1980's to cater to aging baby boomers, classic alternative - with new songs from retro-alternative bands like the White Stripes and the Strokes thrown into the mix on some stations - appeals to Generation X'ers who are beginning to show some gray.
 
 That means it could be a good time to try to raise the average listening age for rock stations. Two trade associations for the alcohol industry, the Beer Institute and the Distilled Spirits Council, announced late last year that they were revising their self-imposed advertising guidelines. Now manufacturers are supposed to place broadcast ads only on stations that reach an audience that is at least 70 percent over the age of 21, instead of the previous 50 percent.
 
 One consultant who has worked with stations moving to classic alternative rock says the changes are part of a broader reaction to growing competition. Satellite radio and TV, along with the Internet, are competing with traditional radio to be listeners' prime music outlet. A variety of stations, from classic alternative outlets to classic rock stations to NPR affiliates, are turning to listeners from Internet mailing lists rather than to general telephone polls for advice.
 
 "The audience is laying down bread crumbs, and we need to follow them," said Fred Jacobs, the president of Jacobs Media in Detroit, a radio consultancy that has worked with KNDD and KBZT.
 
 Alternative radio started in the early 1990's as a reaction to mainstream rock stations. The grunge pioneers Nirvana toppled the reign of glam-metal bands, and groups that had been staples of independent record labels and college radio were thrown into the mainstream limelight. Radio followed them. Alternative was also a reaction to the success of classic rock radio, which began in the mid-80's by dropping current rock acts in favor of baby boomer staples like the Beatles and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
 
 It is only natural to introduce a classic alternative format because people are usually most excited about the music they heard as teenagers, said Don Yates, the music director at Seattle's KEXP-FM, a public station that programs a mix of rock, hip-hop, electronic, blues, country and world music. "Somewhere down the line it's decided that now it's old enough, now it's time to be a nostalgia format," he said.
 
 Phil Manning, the program director at KNDD in Seattle, said his station's format change, on the eve of the switch by KYPT, was in part a defensive move. Last fall, Andy Savage, a KNDD morning show host, jumped ship after his contract expired; he eventually landed at the new KRQI.
 
 "Our morning show left on Sept. 10 last year," Mr. Manning said. "I think it's prudent to say that we started thinking about changes on Sept. 10th-and-a half." Chris Williams, the program director for KRQI, did not return calls for comment.
 
 The End is owned by Entercom, a conglomerate with 104 stations nationwide, mostly talk and non-alternative music outlets. The new K Rock is owned by the Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, a unit of Viacom. Infinity has 180 stations, including the alternative powerhouses KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, KITS-FM in San Francisco and WBCN-FM in Boston.
 
 The latest changes have not been in place long enough to be able to gauge their effect on ratings. But after San Diego's KBZT began emphasizing vintage or "gold" alternative music in November 2002, it went from the city's 18th most popular station among 18- to 34-year-olds to its current position at No. 5, Mr. Jacobs said.
 
 Dave Beasing, Jacobs Media's alternative specialist, said that over the last decade, radio consultants had homogenized alternative radio. His company advises clients to play more music with local connections. That means spinning more grunge like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains in Seattle, and more Southern California punk like Offspring and Bad Religion in San Diego.
 
 He also urges stations to be more respectful toward listeners. Mr. Manning pledged on the air, for instance, that D.J.'s on the End will no longer talk over the beginnings and ends of songs, and will announce song titles and band names.
 
 The radio stations could stand to make good money from these efforts. Working to drive a station's listener age higher ensures that under the new ad guidelines, beer dollars will not go to other stations that already have older audiences.
 
 Mr. Tolkoff, of Radio & Records, said he worried that the new emphasis on historical tracks could be a portent of less-exciting radio. If vintage music ensures high ratings, programmers will play ever fewer new songs and be less willing to take risks, just as they did at album-oriented rock stations in the late 70's, he said.
 
 But being a compelling station and a successful station are not always the same thing. No one will go broke playing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Mr. Tolkoff said. "There will be a generation that that will be their 'Free Bird,' that will be their 'Stairway to Heaven.' "

Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2004, 02:23:00 pm »
I'd more likely listen to a classic rock station than a classic alternative rock station.

MaLo

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2004, 02:47:00 pm »
i spent a lot of time sitting in traffic in san diego last week and enjoyed 94.9.  i liked the format.
 
 other than that, i have nothing constructive to add to this discussion.

mankie

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2004, 02:54:00 pm »
FRED! (XM)
 
 Everything FM is just shite.
 
 XM are also introducing two new channels soon, one dedicated to the more "popular alternative" if that's not an oxymoron, and another for "classic punk", which translates to "real punk".

sonickteam2

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2004, 03:52:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by mankie:
  FRED! (XM)
 
 Everything FM is just shite.
 
 XM are also introducing two new channels soon, one dedicated to the more "popular alternative" if that's not an oxymoron, and another for "classic punk", which translates to "real punk".
i havent found one single XM radio station that i actually like.  at least FM is free.  Me, I'll take my CDs and mp3s.

sonickteam2

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2004, 03:53:00 pm »
oh yeah, but i think a "classic alternative" station would be cool.  hearing U2 on the classic rock station is just too wierd.  but do i think U2 and Limp Bizkit should be on the same station?  hell no.

Bombay Chutney

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2004, 03:54:00 pm »
Thanks for the article, but reading things like this just make me want to jump through the screen and smack everyone involved.
 
 I'd probably enjoy that format (it's pretty much aimed directly at me), but it sucks that stations are so terrified of taking "risks" by playing music outside of their carefully developed formats. I miss the glory days of HFS when you could hear The Grateful Dead and Dead Kennedys in the same hour.  That's what made radio exciting - not knowing what's coming next.
 
 And can we please stop naming stations "K-Rock"?

sonickteam2

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2004, 03:59:00 pm »
i agree.  but i think maybe its a change again.  at least people are taking them, no matter how cautious.  :)

kosmo vinyl

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2004, 04:01:00 pm »
i rather that they use Little Steven's Underground Garage show as a basis for a radio station.  there is rock beyond the beatles, led zep, the doors, pink floyd, rolling stones, hair metal, nu-metal, nirvana, etc...
 
 give me the kinks, small faces, the clash, the shazam, ventures, dave clark five, love, the hentchmen, ramones, etc
T.Rex

Dandy01

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2004, 04:46:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by kosmo vinyl:
  i rather that they use Little Steven's Underground Garage show as a basis for a radio station.  there is rock beyond the beatles, led zep, the doors, pink floyd, rolling stones, hair metal, nu-metal, nirvana, etc...
 
 give me the kinks, small faces, the clash, the shazam, ventures, dave clark five, love, the hentchmen, ramones, etc
great show, I listen to it on 94.7 Sunday nights.

challenged

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2004, 05:11:00 pm »
"They were replaced by familiar voices from the alternative rock explosion of the early 1990's: Nirvana, R.E.M., Weezer and Beck, as well as predecessors like the Clash and Sex Pistols."
 
 We can only hope we get such a station here.  The current crop of crap at HFS and DC101 is poo-poo.
 
 In other news... pioneering Long Island alternative/new wave station WLIR was sold to Univision and went Spanish Language.

Justin Tonation

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2004, 05:16:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by Skeeter:
  I miss the glory days of HFS when you could hear The Grateful Dead and Dead Kennedys in the same hour.  That's what made radio exciting - not knowing what's coming next.
 
 And can we please stop naming stations "K-Rock"?
Pre-1988 WHFS (not HFS,  WHFS!, if you know what I mean). Now that would be classic alternative, when "alternative" still meant something.
 
 I still remember hearing fuckin' Black Flag on  Sunday mornings! And not hearing a song repeated for days, even weeks and months, if ever. A station that would play SST stuff one set and Windham Hill the next. Did you know that WHFS was one of the first stations in the world to play  Yanni, back when he was an electronic musician on the then-independent Private Music label? The  real legendary WHFS is full of weird facts like that. Now its as predictable as a sunrise but with even less variety. Fucking pull the plug already!  DCRTV's  been predicting that it'll go Spanish any day. I won't miss HFS because there's nothing to miss.
 
 As for that K-Rock shit, how 'bout a station with call letters WFRK or KFRK being called F-Rock!
 
 And as for XM, I'd really like to see them add a station for modern and experimental music, ala  The Wire .
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Bags

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2004, 05:32:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by challenged:
  In other news... pioneering Long Island alternative/new wave station WLIR was sold to Univision and went Spanish Language.
NNNNNOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooo!?!?!?
 
 Damn, that bites so hugely.  I listened to LIR back when I used to visit my cousin in Westchester from Florida.  It was one week a year I could hear alternative music in the early 80s. Then I got to listen occasionally when I was in college up in Poughkeepsie -- drives to the city were blessed by catching WLIR for a while. Man.  Man oh man.

Dr. Anton Phibes

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2004, 05:39:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by kosmo vinyl:
  i rather that they use Little Steven's Underground Garage show as a basis for a radio station.  there is rock beyond the beatles, led zep, the doors, pink floyd, rolling stones, hair metal, nu-metal, nirvana, etc...
 
 give me the kinks, small faces, the clash, the shazam, ventures, dave clark five, love, the hentchmen, ramones, etc
> Strange you mentioned Little Steven and the Underground garage. He just signed an exclusive deal with Sirius satellite radio to bring a version of the garage there and to program two more stations I believe for them. Your wish Kos is Steven's command!  :D

Dr. Anton Phibes

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Re: "Classic alternative" radio....discuss
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2004, 05:47:00 pm »
Van Zandt Will Serve As Creative Advisor, Launch ‚??Underground Garage‚?Ě Stream On 100% Commercial-Free Satellite Radio Service
 
 CES, LAS VEGAS & NEW YORK ‚?? January 6, 2004 ‚?? Celebrated musician, actor, and syndicated radio producer Steven Van Zandt has joined the SIRIUS Satellite Radio programming staff as Creative Advisor. Van Zandt will create and program ‚??Underground Garage,‚?Ě an exclusive, fulltime stream for SIRIUS that will debut later this year. He will also produce other SIRIUS shows and serve as advisor on select other SIRIUS streams.
 The agreement with SIRIUS in now way means that Van Zandt's popular weekly terrestrial syndicated radio show is on the way out. It is the only music show that he will continue to host, as his role with SIRIUS is more in the programming and advising vein.
 
 Van Zandt is a pivotal figure in the current rock and roll revival. His internationally syndicated, two-hour radio show, Little Steven‚??s Underground Garage, reaches nearly a million commercial radio listeners every week. Rolling Stone summed it up as ‚??Mind blowingly great.‚?Ě The show, credited with spurring a major resurgence in Garage Rock, is now carried on over 130 stations in the U.S. and Canada, and 43 countries through the Voice of America Music Mix Channel.
 
 Garage Rock, as Van Zandt describes it, is back-to-basics rock ‚??n‚?? roll ‚??with a direct connection to the ‚??60s.‚?Ě Some celebrated garage rock artists through the ages include the Yardbirds, Animals, Kinks, Electric Prunes, Easybeats, Ramones, and more recently, The Hives, White Stripes and The Strokes.
 
 ‚??SIRIUS is about passion and respect for the music, and I can‚??t think of anyone who has more passion and respect for music than Steven,‚?Ě said Joseph P. Clayton, President and Chief Executive Officer, SIRIUS. ‚??Steven will contribute a lifetime‚??s-worth of sage music experience to the SIRIUS programmers. And, as an accomplished musician, radio programmer and DJ he‚??ll create an appealing 24/7 rock format that isn‚??t available anywhere else.‚?Ě
 
 ‚??I am honored to be part of the SIRIUS Satellite family,‚?Ě says Van Zandt. ‚??Choice is what freedom is all about and SIRIUS broadcasting an additional 100 channels of music and talk on top of what terrestrial radio already offers can only be a good thing. SIRIUS will be making history by our channel being the only traditional rock and roll format in the country playing new music. All other new music channels or stations are hard rock, hip hop, or pop music based. The potential synergy between my syndicated show on terrestrial radio and the 24-hour Underground Garage format on SIRIUS will be tremendous. The Rock and Roll Revolution is on!‚?Ě