Thursday, January 13, 2005

Corporate Radio Continues to Kill Music

whfsWashington's DC's long running "alternative" radio station WHFS died yesterday.

The station whose local influence and national impact far outweighed its consistently low ratings, signed off with Jeff Buckley's song "Last Goodbye." Here's a MP3 clip of the final moments of WHFS's broadcast.

Adding insult to injury, the format has changed to the Spanish language "El Zol," where they're "siempre de fiesta" -- always partying. Not that Thrasher is ever against partying per se.

corporate-radio-sucks-tshirt.jpgIt's kinda sad for many long time radio listeners in the area for what once was the only real true radio station. Dating back to the 1960's, the station rose to prominence playing album oriented rock by The Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, and Little Feat.

Originally broadcasting in Bethesda, MD on Cordell Ave. across the street from the Psyche-deli, the programming was astonishingly eclectic. Thrasher can vividly recall his college days at American University listening to DJ's such as Weasel, Damian, and Cerphe who were legendary for their support of local artists like Ian McKaye of Fugazi and Minor Threat.

And where else could one hear Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band sing "Boogie Til You Puke"?

But it all started downhill when the station was purchased by Infinity Broadcasting, moved to 99.1-FM and relocated to Annapolis, MD.

From a front page (above the fold) article in the Washington Post "WHFS Changes Its Tune to Spanish" quoting Seth Hurwitz, owner of the city's 9:30 club, producer of the annual HFStival and former HFS DJ:
"Certainly this will have major ramifications for new music in Washington, D.C. They were always the forerunner for presenting new music and a vital fabric of Washington's culture."

Former DJ Damian Einstein discussing the long decline:
"There really wasn't that much creativity there. Having been there for so long and having done so many things there, of course it's sad. But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do."

Many, many memories of the original WHFS station are archived on WHFS 102.3 Tribute Page by Dave Hughes. Read it and weep. Learn that the call letters WHFS stood for Hi Fidelity Stereo.
whfs staff
WHFS's 1978 DJ's - Damian Einstein, John 'Weasel' Gilbert, David Einstein, Bob Showacre, Diane Divola, Tom Grooms

More on the day the music died from Richard Harrington, the Post's music critic, who sums up the sad state of music and radio today:
"Today, there are lots of ways for people to hear new music and a wider representation of older music. Young rock fans are more likely to find new music on their video-game soundtracks than on most commercial rock stations."


Not depressed enough yet? Here are a couple theories on the decline of the music industry, P2P myths and corporate radio destroys new music.

So what are you going to do? Last we checked, the online petition to save WHFS had 27,931 signatures. Looks like a few folks have been motivated.

In the meantime, I guess we'll keep listening to alternative/progressive radio wherever you can find it -- like on the internet on indie stations like Mansion On The Hill. Sort of the roll your own approach.
whfs
WHFS R.I.P.
---
UPDATE 1/18/05: A protest was held on January 15 by a few loyal WHFS listeners in downtown DC.

Also more on the WHFS radio shutdown.

UPDATE 1/22/04: WHFS now online as Internet radio station.


3 Comments:

At 1/13/2005 11:58:00 PM, Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Hey thanks for the plug! :)

Actually, I got a chance to listen to the new WHFS Spanish style and what I heard was far more imaginative programming-wise than most of what I have heard on WHFS in years. In the little bit of time I listened, they seemed unafraid to put radically different genres of Latin music in the same broadcast without thinking they would alienate their listeners. Can you imagine an English language station programming Miles Davis back to back with Bruce Springsteen and having the latest new music as well? Oh yeah... WHFS about 25 years ago.

I somehow doubt that this cornucopia of good Latin music will last as it is right now. Some of the speculation on DCRTV seems to think that this is just a stunt and will be a very corporate and predictable when they are done with it.

But if anyone ever wants to check out a real great look at Latin music check out KXCI.ORG on Wednesday Evenings. Amazing stuff.

 
At 1/14/2005 04:20:00 PM, Blogger Suze_B said...

I'm glad I drilled down on this post. Since I loved WHFS so much in the 80s, I tried KXCI.com today--the station mentioned in the first comment with the cool Spanish show. Thanks for providing this forum on your blog. I always learn something!

 
At 9/13/2009 02:00:00 AM, Blogger rmadl0 said...

Well Well! How times have changed. I surly did not expect to find anything on here about WHFS or any of the old DJ's I used to live on the 6th floor of Triangle Towers and many a night was spent with Damian, Weasel and Cerphe. I suspect this site is no longer monitored or much less posted to, but I thought I'd give it a try. Can't say how many I put down at the Psyche Deily. I suppose few remember the bands Little Feat or Hickory Wind playing there. Or over at the Red Fox. As Bobby said the times they are a changin'. Hell they have long since changed. Joe from B'town.

 

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