Death of a Frequency

This morning as I was driving the ten-mile stretch between my house and USC, I turned the radio to one of my go-to stations and heard something completely unexpected. A spoken message cast over a low bed of static, playing on repeat.

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.

“Effective immediately.” Honestly, the first thing I did was check to see if it was April 1st.

I’ve bragged to my East Coast friends about radio in Los Angeles. With the lack of public transit I spend a good chunk of my day driving, and when the iPod starts to bore me I’ve had at least six different presets I could count on depending on my mood. 103.1 was at the top of that list.

Indie, you weren’t a perfect radio station. First off, you had a douchebag name. Second, you got your DJ’s to record commercials for Helioâ„¢ and Toyota Huntington Beach and you played those commercials during their sets so I couldn’t tell at first whether I was listening to a commercial or live radio… that wasn’t cool. Third and finally, you were based on a crippling contradiction… you wanted to be underground and successful at the same time. You were a Boy Band in a Hipster Jacket, and talking about how you don’t want to play Britney Spears won’t change that simple dilemma.

But you had Steve Jones, aka Jonesy, the ex-Sex Pistol who grumbled out his two-hour show in a Manchester accent thick as black pudding… a man who sounded like he was a hundred and four years old, like he could die in his sleep between sets. He would put 70’s reggae next to underground 90’s hip hop and throw in some Dion for good measure. He would take his encyclopedic collection of obscure, wonderful musicand play it according to some near-unbreakable thematic code… or maybe he was just putting his iPod on shuffle. But when a song was particularly good, he would break into it towards the end and start whistling, then turn up the reverb on his acoustic guitar and vamp out an extra 6 minutes of imaginary song, with lyrics that usually revolved around his Bum.

You had Henry Rollins, the straight-edge former frontman of the Henry Rollins Band, DIY god, the strongest, smartest emotional ten-year-old in America, attempting to educate his listeners in rare jazz recordings one minute then the next engaging in what can only be described as radical on-air anger management.

You had Joe Escalante, a Mexican lawyer who moonlighted as the bassist in a drag punk cover band… when he wasn’t playing music, he’d spend an hour giving on-air legal advice to amateur filmmakers, musicians and writers with intellectual property issues. It was probably the most useful radio show I’ve ever heard.

You had the Crystal Method, inexplicably still spinning music and having a beer or twenty while they did it. They were secretly making fun of us for listening to the radio at 10 pm on a Friday night.

And you had Darren Ravell, a non-celebrity, a man with no story to speak of. His voice was a little dry, his banter was never that interesting, but he was nonetheless my favorite of all. The lonely ghost of the off-hours, he kept me company on all those long late night drives back from USC when the steering wheel was heavy in my hands. He would play Ulrich Schnauss and Explosions in the Sky and all the gorgeous, genuine dream music that kept me awake. He would play exactly what I needed to keep my headlights fixed forwards through the graveyard hour. He was a fellow traveller.

Commercial radio can’t be long for this world… I know that. I know I’ve been listening to the last clacks of a ticking telegraph… but it’s been such a comforting sound. Indie 103.1, the spectrum will be a little less interesting without you.

Jamie Antonisse

I was born on a Tuesday.

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