Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Remember When College Radio Influenced Commercial Stations?

In an article yesterday about the 25th anniversary of Boston's commercial station WFNX, credit is given to college radio for influencing some of the early "modern rock" stations that were on the vanguard of bringing a bit more diversity to the airwaves in the 1980s. According to the article in the Boston Globe:

"In the beginning, 25 years ago, the station played a format without a name. Calling itself 'the new rock on the block' and 'rock the boat radio,' WFNX-FM (101.7) aired rock music, but not the familiar sound of market giants like WBCN-FM (104.1). Broadcasting lesser known artists, more imports, and the more out-there sounds of punk and new wave, the little Lynn-based station was a pioneer, broadcasting what would become known as the new rock, modern rock, or alternative format...

What is known is that when WFNX went on air in March or April of 1983, it wasn't the first new or modern rock station. WLIR, later WDRE, in Long Island, N.Y., had started broadcasting a similar mix at least a few months earlier. But the Lynn station was in the vanguard, one of the few commercial stations in the country that was learning from punk-driven college radio and airing music that didn't fit in older formats."

A new wave/"rock of the '80s" station in the San Francisco Bay Area from the same period (1983-1985) called the KQAK- The Quake (you can read former DJ Big Rick Stuart's recollections here and read more history on the Bay Area Radio Museum website) was actually my gateway to college radio. When it went off the air in 1985 I turned to local college stations KFJC, KZSU, KSCU, and KSJS in order to hear similar music. I've been a college radio loyalist ever since.

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