A long time ago (early 90s), in a galaxy far, far, away (Oxford, Ohio), I worked at a tiny radio station known as 97X.
It was one of the few indie rock/alternative/modern rock/college rock stations in the country. It was also, in my not-so-humble and completely biased opinion, the best. Because the DJs had a ton of leeway in what they played. Because everyone who worked there loved the music, and had as much fun off the air as on. And mainly because the listeners felt like friends, and were just as passionate about the music as we were. It was the least amount of money I ever made, and the most fun I ever had at a job.
Rain Man dug the station too…
(This scene was filmed in Cincinnati, on the road that my bus travels every weekday when I go to work .)
Several months ago, KEXP-FM in Seattle (the modern day equivalent of 97X) paid tribute, playing songs and even commercials that were on the 97X airwaves back in the day, and interviewing folks who worked there for a long time, including faithful dubbatrubba reader Dave “The Reuben Kincaid of Modern Rock” Tellmann. Here’s the intro to the 97X tribute – it’ll give you a good background on the station:
And here’s KEXP’s edited version of the terrestrial sign-off from station manager Steve Baker (also one of the best radio play-by-play sports announcers ever). It truly captures the passion and community feel of 97X:
It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since I worked there, but 97X truly will always be a part of who I am. It’s the reason I like “weirdo” bands to this day, much to my kids’ consternation and dismay (“Car Seat Headrest?”). It’s also the reason I always root for the underdogs, and relate to the rebels and outcasts. Those are my people; that’s my tribe.
(You can’t even view the entire song because Lorne Michaels and the corporate bigwigs don’t want you to. Typical!)
If you’d like to go way back in the time machine, you can stream 97X from 1985 here. My old pal John Fox also wrote a nice essay about the station back in 2004.
UPDATE 1/19 – Faithful dubbatrubba.com reader Matt Sledge, who spent a decade at 97X, commented on my original post and added a few interesting links:
Of course I have to leave my two, three, or four cents on this topic… since that’s how much we got paid back then working at 97X.
As Bake said about 97X on the final broadcast: “It changed my life.” Truer words were never spoken.
As I sit here back in Oxford in the year 2018, if you had told me when I started as an intern at 97X back in 1994 that 24 years later I’d be commenting on a former coworkers blog about that station and how it changed my life as well, I would have asked you how drunk you were.
Alas, here we are.
Some YouTube links to pass along:
The last 30 “laps” of the 2003 Modern Rock 500, with songs edited out and some commercials intact. This would be the last 500 on the terrestrial airwaves: https://youtu.be/vv3-DWSeqF0
97X recorded from 1999 by a fan, with songs omitted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
And of course, the final break from Bake on the final night of broadcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
It’s almost 14 years after the last broadcast, and the memory of the station remains strong from all who worked there and the listeners.
We did some good work, didn’t we?