Monday, February 28, 2005

RIP Y100

While you were watching the television that the FCC has worked so hard to cleanse of nipples and swear words, their decision to deregulate the radio industry cost Philadelphia a valuable musical outlet. Radio One decided to pull Y100 from the airwaves with little notice or regard for their employees or their listeners. For over 12 years Y100 was an important part of the modern rock landscape. Y100 was killed so that Radio One could move an existing station to the stronger signal at 100.3. Philadelphia now becomes the largest city in the U.S. without a modern rock station.

Even if you didn’t listen to Y100, the impact of its absence will be noticeable. Y100 may not have had the deepest playlist, but it began playing bands such as the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Modest Mouse before they became popular. They also helped bands such as Nirvana, Green Day, Pearl Jam, and Radiohead become the icons they are.

Y100 made Philadelphia a necessary stop for bands on the way up. These bands made concert halls such as the Electric Factory and the Trocadero popular venues. Without Y100 to break these new artists, there is no station to introduce new music in a category that has recently become interesting again. Philly’s live music scene undoubtedly will suffer.

I think the biggest issue I have with what Radio One did was how they did it. When Radio One decided to kill WDRE in 1997, they paid respect to their listeners by allowing the station to have an extended mourning period; at least I thought it was respect. This time I am sure many fans turned on their radio Friday only to find that their morning companion had disappeared. I have a hard time believing that this same corporation could be so altruistic when WDRE was killed and so callous this time around. Ultimately this is what Michael Powell and deregulation has brought us – companies such as Radio One and Clear Channel that have grown like weeds (Radio One has gone from 7 to 69 stations in the past 8 years) yet bear little responsibility for serving the public. Their only concern is for shareholders who don’t even listen to their stations.

I am sure that some station will step into the void and service these lost listeners. Y100 was ranked 7th in the Philadelphia market (ironically ahead of 103.9), and therefore offers an attractive audience. But Y100 began 12 years ago before the corporate mindset took hold in radio. Any new modern rock station will surely be a hired gun, concerned more about rating points than quality. Y100’s contributions to modern rock and to the community will not be easily replaced.