Eclecticism and good taste in rock music of all shades from punk to Latin American alternative find a welcoming home in Indie “103.1.”
This station is small in comparison to KROQ, but brings music collector taste and famous musicians as disc jockeys to make a truly expansive rock station.
Michael Steele, program director for Indie, started the rock station almost three years ago with a partner because at the time there were only three major rock stations in the L.A. basin and none of them were playing local bands or highlighting older bands from the 1970s, besides the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.
“We always felt with L.A. and southern California’s history of great music (mainstream radio was overlooking great bands),” Steele said.
At the time Indie was still an idea and “rap rock” had its hold on mainstream rock radio. Steele and his friends felt that the music on the radio did not reflect their tastes.
“It seemed to me that there were a lot of independent bands that weren’t being played,” Steele said.
The idea for Indie would be a radio station that played rock in all its forms.
“I don’t put any rules on genre,” Steele said.
Anything from alt-country to punk rock will be played on Indie.
“I give air talent quite a bit of freedom to play what they want,” Steele said.
Steele contacted Steve Jones, former Sex Pistol, to be the first DJ on Indie.
“I didn’t want to hire traditional DJs,” Steele said. “I wanted musicians to DJ.”
Steele said he figured Jones would last two months and then bail but Jones kept coming and bringing music from his home to play.
Jones hosts an afternoon show, “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” where he plays whatever he wants, Steele said. This can range from glam rock and punk to even a little classical music.
Musician DJs includes Rob Zombie, hosting “Spookshow International,” Dave Navarro, Henry Rollins, “Harmony in my Head” and Crystal Method with “Community Service” playing music they like.
Indie puts a lot of emphasis on getting local bands on the air, Steele said.
“That’s a big thing for us, showcasing the local bands,” Steele said. “We highlight at least one local band an hour.”
The radio program “Check one?two” features primarily local bands in the L.A. area.
Chuck P., assistant program director, DJs “Dead Air” on Sundays and said he tries to cover the spectrum of rock music on his radio show.
“I try to balance the show over two hours from alt-country to punk,” P. said.
Indie sets itself apart from the other rock stations in L.A., P. said.
“We can take far more chances and be more original than other (rock) stations can take,” P. said.
Radio stations like KROQ and KJACK cover the top 40 market and do not have room for the smaller local bands Chuck P. said.
“Because they have a booming signal that can reach broader audience,” P said.
Showcasing great old bands and finding local bands is the focus of Indie.
“We’re not solely profit driven,” P. said. “We take chances on bands. It gives Indie a strong identity.”
One of the stations intern’s, Michelle Robinson, sophomore pre-CTVA major, works around the office checking MySpace friend pages, doing voice work for commercials, calling prize-winners and working for the morning show.
“The atmosphere (of Indie) is a lot of fun,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the DJs are very cool and always willing to burn a CD for her.
“They are willing to talk to you and teach you,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the relaxed atmosphere of Indie affects the on-air programs.
“I think the atmosphere of the radio station really comes through to the listener.” Robinson said.
Finding music outside of the top 40 is as easy as tuning into Indie 103.1
“It’s a station for the music fan,” Steele said.