Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Omaha Indie Radio Show

Today on Lazy-i, Tim McMahan writes about the state of indie radio in Omaha, Nebraska (there isn't much) and lauds the efforts of one weekly radio show at Iowa Western Community College station KIWR-FM that provides an outlet for independent sounds. He also mentions that Omaha (the station's main market) doesn't have a "real" college radio station. I guess that's in part due to the fact that KIWR seems to operate more like a commercial station. I can't find much about its history, besides the fact that it's been "alternative" format since 1996 and was a classical and/or jazz station prior to that.

In his column today, Tim writes:

"There continues to be one dim, lonely light burning in the dark, lifeless chasm of local radio. And now that light just got a little bit closer, a little bit brighter. A couple weeks ago, local FM 'alternative' rock station 89.7 The River moved one if its few valued assets -- the 2-hour indie-music program New Day Rising -- from 11 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday nights, making it
slightly more within reach to all of us who have to work in the morning.

Since its inception in December 2004...New Day Rising (named after a Husker Du song) has been the sole source of College Music Journal-style programming on the Omaha FM dial, a fact that goes beyond irony to imbecility, considering that our city has been recognized in the national and international press as one of the most vital music scenes in the country. Omaha radio's non-support of our lauded local talent is nothing less than embarrassing...

A typical episode combines just-released indie rock with older underground standards and a sprinkling of local offerings. Last Sunday's show included tracks by such indie stalwarts as Jenny Lewis, Neko Case, Conor Oberst and The Shins as well as not-so-familiar acts like The Action Design, The Spinto Band and The Black and White Years, along with a track by local geniuses Little Brazil. Every episode is capped with a classic track from Sonic Youth. 'They epitomize what I think the indie or alternative world is supposed to be about," Leibowitz said. 'They're this generation's Velvet Underground.'"

The article also mentions that the show proudly uses the term "indie" to describe its music, although four years ago there was some debate over its relevance. According to the piece:

"Back when New Day Rising first rose, 'indie' was a dirty word that Leibowitz's original co-host forbade me to use when describing their radio show. 'That's one thing that's changed over the past four years -- we've taken indie back,' Leibowitz said. 'It used to be that the 'I-word' was something that people avoided; now it's a badge of honor.'"

I wonder why "indie" was such a dirty word initially? Did the term become too trendy or too identified with a specific style of music?

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