Great words by Joni Mitchell. I think the lyrics of her 1970’s hit “Big Yellow Taxi” are both poignant and a little sad, especially in this case because I’m referring to the sale of one of Los Angeles’ most cherished radio stations, 100.3 “The Sound”. Owned by Entercom, a deal was recently made to sell the station and change the format to Christian music. The sale of a radio station and its subsequent format change isn’t something new, it’s happened many times in the past, and the way radio is going, it will continue to happen. But something about this change has seemingly opened a wound in L.A., almost like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Radio stations come and go. There was “The Mighty Met”, KMET, there was 93 KHJ, and there was 101.9 KSCA. Sure, there have been plenty of stations here in Los Angeles, and a lot of them did the same thing; they played music. They even played the same music, and in recent years they played a dying breed of music – “classic rock”.
So what’s so different about 100.3? Why is this sale striking such a dissonant chord with listeners? It’s just another classic rock station playing the same 100 songs over and over right? Well, not really. If you’re a casual listener and you were to just tune in at random, you might hear “Layla” or something else you’ve heard a million times. Listen closer though, and you’ll hear plenty of deep tracks, played by some of the most knowledgable jockeys this side of Mississippi. But do you really need radio with all the mediums around, like Spotify, iTunes, and the myriad other sources around today? I suppose one doesn’t, but 100.3 offers something far beyond just music, they offer personalities, and I don’t mean just talking head personalities. There’s something special about the DJs who work there, and it’s hard to categorize, my best attempt at putting a name on it is “friends.”
There’s something about those voices at 100.3 that draws you in and makes you feel like you’re sitting in a room with your friends, listening to the music of your life. Of course, it’s the DJs, they are the component of radio that act as the glue between the bricks. With Mimi Chen’s weekly “Peace, Love, and Sunday Mornings”, Uncle Joe Benson’s “Rock and Roll Morning Show”, “Roll The Dice” and “Your Turn” a show that allowed a lucky listener and the occasional rock star to helm the mic, the airwaves were lush with the comforting voices of our friends. Stations come and go, but unfortunately stations like “The Sound” don’t come often enough, and they seem to go far too soon.
I hope to find these incredibly talented DJs back in another iteration of 100.3, like a rock and roll déjà vu. Los Angeles just won’t be the same without them….