In mid-January, at about 10am on a Tuesday, the Los Angeles-based radio station Indie 103.1 played the Frank Sinatra and Sid Vicious versions of "My Way" followed by a recorded announcement that the station was ceasing its FM broadcast and would in future broadcast only online – another media venture suffering in these recessionary times.
The station was acclaimed for its eclecticism and for its roster of high-profile DJs, including Rob Zombie and Steve Jones. The former Sex Pistols guitarist's midday show, Jonesy's Jukebox, was the station's signature programme, but it is not surviving the downsizing to the online-only incarnation. Other station DJs though, including Henry Rollins, are continuing online – hear them at http://www.indie1031.fm.
Rollins, writing on his own website, http://21361.com, was philosophical about the station's move: "The Downsides: No more being on the radio – can't tune in from your car, etc. It sure was fun. The Upsides: No FCC [Federal Communications Commission] – we don't have to censor the music any more. No commercial breaks."
Whether they are online-only stations or fully-fledged radio stations also streaming online, the web has brilliantly opened up radio with listeners able to find stations far beyond the tuning dial. With the confident slogan, "the future of rock and roll", woxy.com ( http://woxy.lala.com), is a radio station based in Cincinnati, which launched in 1983, started simultaneously broadcasting online in 1998, and went web-only in 2004. In many ways, the station points the way forward for alternative radio stations attempting to broadcast varied and interesting music that's slightly off the beaten track. Through the station's website you can also buy tracks to download and they have a nice blog to keep you abreast of new music.
East Village Radio is another web radio station with a brilliantly wide selection of music; find it at http://www.eastvillageradio.com. Launched in 2003, this free station broadcasts from 6am to 2am (New York time) every day, with each show running in two-hour slots. Pretty much every genre of music is covered during the week-long schedule; it's rather impressive. On Friday evenings, writers from the music magazine The Fader ( http://www.thefader.com) host a show called The Let Out, focusing largely on new music, while the Mark Ronson-hosted show Authentic Shit follows that. The timing isn't convenient for us Greenwich Mean Timers but podcasts can be heard for up to a week after the original broadcast.
Somewhat closer to home is a radio show that broadcasts in Ireland called An Taobh Tuathail ("The Other Side"). Granted, the show (Monday to Friday, 11pm) is on the country's Irish-speaking channel Radio na Gaeltachta, so some might find it daunting, but host Cian O'Ciobhain keeps the chat to a minimum and lets the often brilliant music do the talking instead. The show is streamed live and as a podcast for up to a week after the broadcast at http://tinyurl.com/bonly8. With electronic music as its base, the show also spreads its nets wider into other genres. O'Ciobhain has released two compilation albums of some of his favourite music from the show – the second can be heard at http://tinyurl.com/dz9hyu.
Meanwhile, in the UK an interesting under-the-radar station is Sub FM, which states its intention to "giving you the best in online pirate soundz". It's a particularly good source for hearing the latest developments in dubstep, but also offers "Garage, Grime, Dub, Niche, Wonky and more!" I won't lie: I can't say I knew what wonky was before now, but some quick research tells me it's a form of techno. Well, there you have it – http://www.subfm.com.
PICK OF THE WEEK
The homeless G-funk beatboxer
An intriguing performance has been posted on YouTube by the Los Angeles gallery HVW8 ( http://www.hvw8.com). The gallery claims that, late last year, a homeless man calling himself Red turned up outside their building and performed his own song "I Should Tell Ya Mama On You", which they filmed. He then implored the gallery folk to help him get a record deal, which apparently seems to be on the way, with Red recording an official version of the song for a single. It's a strange song, melding human beatbox, G-funk and raspy singing to make a sound you may think only a computer could create. See http://tinyurl.com/awgmy7.