UPDATE: Indie’s former music director Mike Sovell gave an interview to The Daily Swarm in which he says that the decision to shut down the station’s terrestrial broadcast wasn’t Indie’s. Instead, he suggests that owner Entravision decided to pull the plug:
They are running an ad on the air saying we couldn’t play the corporate radio game anymore and that we didn’t want to change our format to be more mainstream and that we decided to play music on the web, but the staff of Indie had no control in the decision to shut down the station. I guess they had some success with the web and want to keep it going.
We’ve reached out to Entravision but have yet to hear back.
Furthermore, even though it originally seemed like Indie was just changing its method of transmission, going from radio to online-only, Indie Online will be a new station. DJs behind several of Indie’s specialty shows have volunteered to continue their shows on the new station, but it seems like everyone else affiliated with the Indie that went off the air was effectively fired on Thursday.
EARLIER: LA’s Indie 103.1 FM stopped broadcasting over the air today and will continue on the Internet only. Why? Because it doesn’t want to be forced to play the schlock that is necessary to succeed in the terrestrial radio business, at least that’s what a message on the station’s Web site says.
Named the best radio station in the country by Rolling Stone, Indie is well-known (and loved) by musicians and music journalists (including yours truly) because of its diverse, innovative playlists.
However, the station has had trouble attracting listeners and suffered low ratings. The most recent Arbitron ratings gave Indie 0.6% of the local radio market compared to 3.5% for the better-known KROQ. This past fall, under pressure to increase Indie’s audience, the station’s programming director fired many of its best-known DJs and changed/rescheduled a number of other shows, which seemed like an attempt to focus on playing more, popular music.
The station’s farewell announcement, posted on indie1031.com, seems to confirm that it felt the need to cave to pressure from owner Entravision and improve ratings by playing more mainstream fare.
Here’s an excerpt:
“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.”
By going to online only, Indie likely won’t face the same sort of advertising and ratings demands. But the move is also illustrative of the state of radio now as well, since a number of well-known alternative radio stations have switched to online-only streams.
Anyways, we’ve listened to Indie 103 over the Internet for the past year and hope it has a long, eclectic life online.
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