Tuning in, turning on

The storyline of local commercial music radio is euphoria punctuated by heartbreak. Witness the gory death toll of much-beloved stations that have been shit-canned for something far more sonically flaccid in the past 20 years: KMET, KEDG, Groove Radio, MARS-FM, KNAC (both new wave and heavy metal versions), KSCA, Pirate Radio, Y-107, Cool Radio KMXN 94.3 . . . and that's just what we can remember in 30 seconds. Of course, commercial radio has never, ever been about exposing people to great bands; it's about how many ears can be exposed to the ads in between the song blocks. And so it came to pass on Dec. 26 that dance-music station KDL 103.1—a simulcast emitting from transmitters in Santa Monica and Newport Beach—went belly up, replaced by an alternative rock format that means to compete with entrenched behemoth KROQ. Currently the station is free of both DJs and commercials—a standard maneuver when format changes occur, allowing time to hire staff while giving listeners a taste of what's to come—but we admit to liking what we've heard so far: Lou Reed's "Vicious," the Stranglers' "Peaches," Nick Cave, the Beastie Boys, Jim Carroll's "People Who Died," the Polyphonic Spree, XTC, Bob Marley (great, but if this sneak preview is any indicator, the only black guy they'll ever play), the Clash's "The Magnificent 7" and a host of other savory nuggets rarely heard outside your home stereo or MP3 player. Still, we've been through this before, and even though our hopes are stratospheric for a decent alternative to KROQ's tired playlist and misconstrued hip factor, we can't shake this feeling of dread—of knowing we're destined for a huge letdown. For one thing, they're plugging themselves as "Indie 103.1," which leaves them open to myriad complaints. We can hear the deafening murmur growing already: "If they're so indie, why are they playing major-label bands?" "If they're so indie, why are they playing this Police oldie?" "If they're so indie, why is Clear Channel handling their advertising?" And we're certain to hear, "They're about as indie as Fox News is fair and balanced" sometime soo . . . whoops, we just heard it!We accept the necessity of ads, but on a more perfect planet, Indie 103.1 would go permanently DJ free. While this world isn't perfect, not by a long shot, at least we now have the option of beautiful, commercial-free satellite radio, something we suspect we'll finally be subscribing to once Indie 103.1 goes off the air—we're guessing sometime around this Thanksgiving, if not sooner. But we do have a request: Can they please have a four-hour local music show along the lines of KMXN's much-missed "Go Loco" program? (Rich Kane)

ROCK & ROLL HELL

So an autopsy report revealed that Righteous Brothers tenor Bobby Hatfield died from cocaine abuse instead of natural heart disease. Par for his life. After all, Hatfield reserved some of his last hours to call the Weekly "cocksuckers" after we—all right, I—listed his 1960s duo as the 129th greatest band in Orange County history and crowned them "the original wiggers." ("Cocksuckers"? Lucky guess.) Hatfield's death brought back for me an anecdote my history teacher once shared with my class at Anaheim High School in the mid-'90s. Seems that my teacher was advisor to the student government during the '80s and had invited Hatfield to perform in front of a lunchtime assembly at Anaheim High. Hatfield—a fellow Colonist who graduated in the late '50s—refused, according to my teacher, because "too many Latino kids" were attending his alma mater by then. While the story may be apocryphal, I've never truly doubted it—my unimpeachable history teacher was a Southern gentleman and ex-Marine, and among the most honorable men I've ever encountered—and Hatfield's end-days homophobia and drug-sniffing affirmed the story for me. What can be proven, however, is that Hatfield never performed at an Anaheim High function after he became famous. His better half, Bill Medley, on the other hand, found the time to perform at his alma mater, Santa Ana High, during the school's centennial in 1989—and that school is more Latino than Mexico. (Gustavo Arellano)

HELLA COACHELLA

The rumor mill surrounding this year's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival—or just Coachella, for you less-wordy types—is churning unusually early, but we can pin down at least one thing: it'll be another two-day affair, with the dates set for May 1-2, according to Pollstar, the concert industry website, which also tells us that Electric 6, Prefuse 73, Sidestepper and the Thrills have already been booked to play. And . . . that's about it, but at least you know what the dates are to reserve that skanky, stinky desert motel room you stay in every year. Meanwhile, there's the always-fun who's-playing guessing game, which will doubtlessly remain unconfirmed right up until . . . well, whenever the promoters at Goldenvoice are good 'n' ready to divulge. So far we've heard via several websites—BUT WE DON'T KNOW FOR SURE AND WE'RE PROBABLY WRONG, SO DON'T PESTER US WITH PHONE CALLS!—that:

Radiohead are confirmed!

• The Cure are in!

• And the Flaming Lips!

• There'll be a Jam reunion!

• There's a greater chance of a Beatles reunion than a Jam reunion!

• But there WILL be a Pixies reunion!

The Strokes are totally there!

• And PJ Harvey!

Kraftwerk, too!

The Mars Volta, Jets to Brazil, Calexico, Death Cab for Cutie, Kings of Leon and the Locust are all playing!

• Or not! (RK)

 
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