Clear Channel Goes Indie?

[I found this article at waxy - a great rss feed. It's very interesting in the light of Clear Channel becoming more of a force on the British music landscape.]

When you hear the words "Clear Channel," you probably don't think "Indie." But on Christmas night, Clear Channel's Los Angeles affiliate KDL switched from a failing dance format to Indie 103-1: "Your Independent Radio Station."

Take a look at these two hourly playlists, to get a grasp of the new format. It's not college radio by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a more eclectic mix of music (e.g. Postal Service, Polyphonic Spree, Jeff Buckley, X) than any other commercial radio station in Southern California. And, even more shocking, the station will be running without on-air "personalities" or commercial interruptions for the next few weeks.

The switch seems distinctly out-of-character for "radio's big bully", known for its secretive payola schemes. Why the sudden interest in providing an outlet for new music?

In Los Angeles, the "alternative" market has long been dominated by Infinity Broadcasting's KROQ. In the last few years, it's evolved into a corporate rock nightmare without any competition. Without an adequate alternative to the non-stop stream of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park clones, many listeners simply turned off their radios.

One of the new taglines for Indie 103-1 is "bringing the alternative back to Los Angeles," a direct jab at the new KROQ. By providing a more diverse station, Clear Channel will likely be able to profit off new bands that aren't getting exposure from KROQ, while attracting KROQ's alienated audience.

If you're interested, I highly recommend reading Los Angeles Radio-Info, a message board for local radio insiders. They're following the story closely, with tons of great commentary and speculation. It's an interesting glimpse into the feud between radio's two biggest conglomerates. If successful, Clear Channel's "Indie" experiment may have surprising consequences across the nation's radio landscape.


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