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Transcript

Radio: WHFS Off the Air

Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff writer
Thursday, January 13, 2005; 2:00 PM

WHFS-FM, the Washington area radio station that was a pioneering purveyor of alternative rock to generations of young music fans, did a programming U-turn yesterday by ditching the genre for a Spanish-language, pop-music format that transforms it into the largest Spanish-language station on the local dial.

Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi was online Thursday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. ET, to discuss the end of WHFS.


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Paul Farhi: Greetings, all, and welcome to a Very Special Episode of Station Break, our bi-weekly chat about local and national TV and radio (plug-o-la R us)...Well. This thing has really touched a nerve. People sure are venting spleen about WHFS and its format switch. Take a look at this "petition" to bring back rock to 99.1 (http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?991hfs).Just a wee bit of racism there, no? And where were all these people when WHFS needed them?
Anyway, let me throw a couple of ideas out there: 1) What was so bad about the current HFS? And 2) Is the wailing and thrashing about its demise driven, at least somewhat, about one's fondly remembered (and now lost) youth, rather than WHFS's inherent musical lousiness (I mean, SOMEONE must like Puddle of Mudd and Linkin Park; they sell lots of records...).
Let's rock on (or perhaps salsa on)...

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Washington, D.C.: I think it is a shame that WHFS-FM changed its format. However, I think the Latino commmunity have few radio stations to listen to in the Washington area. I am reminded that WPGC-FM used to be a top 40 radio station, and I am sure it made a nice profit. However, urban music had few outlets for African-Americans in the D.C. area. So, WPGC changed its format, and I think it is one of the top-rated radio stations, and it is probably one of the more profitable ones, too.

Paul Farhi: Right. Excellent point. The rock-music loving community's loss is the Latino community's gain. I'm not hearing a whole lot of complaints from that segment (then again, I have only two years of high school Spanish, so I'm not sure I'd understand the complaints anyway)...

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Washington, D.C.: Why is it that media outlets, including The Washington Post, view the change in Radio format negatively -- headline "WHFS no longer Rocks." You know it still rocks but in Spanish!

Paul Farhi: Point taken. Although I think it "merengues" rather than rocks...

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Washington, D.C.: Does the closing down of HFS mark a trend that will happen accross the country with regards to "Modern Rock" stations? If so, what do you think are the reasons for the demise of this format at least on FM Radio?

Paul Farhi: It is already happening. Rock--in all its various forms (album-oriented, classic, alternative, etc.)--is not a growth format. Blame the aging Baby Boomers, who aren't tuning in like they used to, and Generations X, Y and Z, which have iPods, satellite radios and other ways to get their music.

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Takoma Park, Md.: I hated the abruptness of the switch over and couldn't believe that anyone was allowed to talk about what the station meant to its listeners and employees before it went off the air. I had two questions. What do you think will happen to the radio station's significant collections of live recordings, interviews and sound bits and will the new station have any local aspect to it such as news, traffic or programming?

Paul Farhi: Yes, it was abrupt (the Junkies had no clue that they'd done their last show when they wrapped up at 10 a.m. yesterday), but it was not unusual. Stations often switch formats without notice...As for the archives, that's a great question. I don't know for sure, but since Infinity still owns the station (and its "content"), it's unlikely they'll be trashed. Archive material often has great value.

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Columbia, Md.: In response to "where were all these people when hfs needed them?"

We would have been there if we knew it was going to happen and had been warned.

Paul Farhi: Oh, right. So if Infinity had announced, "we're going to dump alt-rock for Spanish music unless you start listening" THAT would have turned WHFS around? Not likely...

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Centreville, Va.: What will happen to the donations for the tsunami relief that was raised by The Sports Junkies that were paid for auctioned items, such as tickets to WHFS sponsored shows/concerts and the HFStival?

And is this change to Spanish radio just one more step to America becoming a dual language country?

Paul Farhi: Again, the corporate ownership isn't changing, and there are laws about these things, so I wouldn't worry too much about that...As for making America a dual-language country, I am totally dubious about that. Robert McNeil, the former PBS dude who was chatting here earlier to plug his book and TV series about language in America, makes the point that English is far more threatening to the existence of Spanish in America than the other way around. Wait a generation. All the non-English speakers, or at least their kids, will be English speakers. It has ALWAYS happened...

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: I just want to say what a difference HFS made to me when I was growing up in Fredneck,MD. In the early 80's, the first time I heard the great punk band X was on that station in '82 and it took my breathe away. HFS opened me up to a whole new world of great alternative music when I was surrounded by Skynard fans and farmers. May the memories keep us all young! ADIOS HFS!

Paul Farhi: I am sure there are many stories like this out there (but, hey, I love Skynyrd...)

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Laurel, Md.: To argue the point of a poster above, the new channel does NOT rock in Spanish. It is a clone of every other Spanish-format station: salsa, salsa, merengue, cumbia, salsa, salsa. Ad Nauseum.

A truly radical change would be a Spanish-rock station that plays interesting and new music: latin rock, rock-latin jazz fusion, old school salsa and similar rhythms, etc.

But that won't happen, EVER.

Paul Farhi: Personally, I kind of like the craziness and cultural differences of some of the Spanish stations I've heard in Miami, L.A., and other cities with substantial latino populations (and no, I don't speak the language well). Maybe this one will be eye-opening (and yes, maybe not).

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Re: the petition: Oh yeah, lots of bigoted nonsense on it. Which is, I think, symptomatic of why HFS failed.

Rock and alternative music exist because musicians were inclusive and open to different influences, and forged something new from them. The fact that (apparently) the audience of HFS was a bunch of mouth-breathing bigots demonstrates how badly their programming missed the mark on that. The shallow, bottom of the barrel music they played just naturally draws these narrow-minded kinds of people.

Paul Farhi: I never thought of it that way, and now that I do, I'm not entirely sure you're right. But: the people who once loved HFS did love it for its diversity and its unpredictability, two commodities missing on the airwaves these days.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: OK, Mr. Insider,
What happened? We just discussed HFS and the Junkies this week on your chat. Did you know, but were sworn to secrecy, or were you out of the loop like everyone else. This is a weird way to transition a station's format, but it is not without precedent. It's a hell of a way to run a business. Did the people working at the station, i.e. English speaking on-air talent, know their lives were going to be turned upside down?

What happens to the Junkies now? Seems like they will be off the air until Stern leaves WJFK, BUT If there is a God, they will replace Bill O'Reilly NOW!

Paul Farhi: I was completely out of the loop. Total surprise to me when I heard yesterday. But so were the Junkies and Don & Mike. As Don said yesterday on his show, this is the one time Infinity's management was able to keep a secret...And I am with you on the Junks--PUH-LEEZE put them in for O'Reilly.

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Off the Err: If HFS's ratings were declining steadily, why did they not try to tweak the format first? They seemed to continue down the same path of mainstreaming and repetition. Couldn't they have shown a bit more agility and survived?

Paul Farhi: I think they were trying to do that (they brought in Lisa Worden, from KROQ-FM in L.A., as program director about 15 months ago to tweak things up). But Infinity also saw opportunity--a somewhat underserved Spanish-language market--and could see the handwriting on the wall about the rock-music market. Plus, HFS was allegedly barely profitable; it was supposedly making as much money putting on the HFStival as it was broadcasting music.

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Arlington, Va.: I was reading the postings (200+) at washingtonpost.com and was really disappointed to see so many slams against the Spanish-speaking population. D.C. is a diverse city... the music that was orginally played on HFS was probably slammed as well. One of the great things about this country is that we can hear different music. If you don't like it, change the channel, station, cd or buy XM.

Paul Farhi: Ain't that America, for you 'n me? (Sorry, I went into WARW mode there for a second...)

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Fairfax, Va.: Thanks for fielding these questions. Is there a chance that another station here will pick up the music the HFS was playing?

Paul Farhi: I don't know, of course, but I'd say only on the edges. DC-101 is already doing pretty much what HFS did, of course. Maybe the other pop stations (99.5, 104.1, etc.) add a few alt-rock artists, but more likely they're going to stay with what they have and what they do now.

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McLean, Va.: I moved to the DC area almost 10 years ago, and whatever "special quality" WHFS once had must have already vanished by that time. It always struck me as little more than DC101's partner as the "Coke/Pepsi" of modern rock radio stations (everyone knows that the REAL alternative cola was always RC). I was quite surprised to learn later on of HFS' storied and near-legendary past and could never reconcile this with what I was hearing on the radio up until yesterday, which included a playlist that was not much more than a "Jane Says" marathon.

To me, this whole switch elicits little more than a shrug.

Paul Farhi: I guess you had to live here back in the day to know how special WHFS once was...

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Fairfax, Va.: I think most of the anger is generated by the way it was handled. I realize you can't give much advanced warning on it, but there was almost no info given after the fact. I think Infinity blew it big time with that. I'm sure there is some negative attitudes about the new format, but I think they are founded more in how they did it, not what they did.

I listened to HFS all the time in the car as I felt they played the best music (I happen to like LP and bands like them). While they have moved more mainstream in the past decade, they still took a more progressive outlook on music the DC101. They also had one of the best morning shows around in the Junkies.

My question is, what happens to them now?

Paul Farhi: Well, I think the anger is more about losing a once-dear friend. People really bond with a station, and even if they don't listen to it, they feel some "identity" with it. In WHFS's case, everyone felt it embodied more than just a pile of records; it was about a certain spirit. That spirit is now gone.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello,

I was wondering if you know if the rumor is true that WJFK is going to take Howard Stern off of the air and move the line up around to add the sports junkies back into the mix?

Thanks.

Paul Farhi: Well, this is something more than a rumor, but stay with me here. Stern IS leaving WJFK to go to Sirius satellite radio--but not, officially, until the end of the year. This will open up a gaping hole not just at his local station, WJFK, but in the entire morning drivetime market. So: JFK (owned by Infinity, which also owns WHFS) has to keep an eye on the mid-term horizon. The Junks are real talents. They'll be fine, and will probably get the middday slot soon on JFK since it's a mess now (the unlistenable James Brown sports-talk show and then the barely tolerable Bill O'Reilly). What happens after that, and before Stern's scheduled departure, is still up in the air.

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Columbia, S.C.: Se habla XM? Isn't all this just more proof why radio as we once knew it is dying?

Paul Farhi: Si. Satellite radio, and XM in particular, is the cable TV of broadcasting right now. By which I mean: Just as cable destroyed the broadcast networks' dominance over TV audiences, satellite is destroying terrestial radio's control of the radio audience.

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Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.: HFS should have ended much sooner. It was painful to hear a once great alt-rock station reduced to playing lowest common denominator pap like Sublime and Dave Matthews Band. When I tuned in 99.1 and heard some salsa I thought, finally some "alternative" music.

That said, is any local station picking up Loveline? That show is still great.

Paul Farhi: Loveline! Forgot about that show. I love it, too. As a general observation, all of HFS' on-air talent, and syndicated stuff like Loveline, is under contracts, which Infinity is legally bound to honor. Which means Infinity has to keep paying the Junks and Loveline's syndicator for the right to the show, but it doesn't necessarily have to put any of it on the air. I'm betting that Loveline finds another local station, and soon. It's a great late-night show.

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Arlington, Va.: To me there is a huge irony that everyone is missing. This supposedly local "institution" was owned, operated, and ultimately destroyed by executives who probably never heard WHFS. Talk about life imitating art, didn't Green Day predict this in "American Idiot?"

Paul Farhi: Ah, corporate radio. I would refer everyone to Tom Petty's "The Last Deejay" for a refreshing commentary about the state of things...

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Maryland: I moved to DC in 89. Perhaps that's not far "back in the day" enough, but HFS was not all that and a piece of cheese even back then. Yawn. The BIG loss to alternative music in this area in the last couple of years? WAMU's abandonment of blue grass and american roots music.

Paul Farhi: Fair enough. But waaay back in the day, there were a lot of bands and artists (Bruuuuuce!) that you'd never hear if it wasn't for WHFS. For those of you who used to rock, we salute you...

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: re: stations changing format quickly

Just see the first episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati."

Paul Farhi: Hahahahaha! Thanks.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: What about the Festival? Did the numbers of people who came out for it dwindle, too? I heard they are still thinking of still having it? But how would they promote the festival -- just through online sales?

Paul Farhi: Well, they drew 65,000 to RFK for the last one in May. It was a big moneymaker (most, if not all, of the many bands performed for free, or almost free). But I don't see how they do it, without the station to plug it. I mean, you can still put on a concert with 36 alternative acts, but is DC 101 going to take on the promotional duties? Maybe...

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Suitland, Md.: There were two HFSs. One was pre-CBS/Viacom and then there was post-CBS/Viacom. The former had listeners that were considered outside the "norm." The corporate takeover was specifically aimed at broadening this small audience. This led to the basic similarities with DC 101.

I see it this way: A typical listener to WHFS then would get beat up by the jock-o WHFS listener of today. The dumbing down of America continues.

Paul Farhi: Well, yes, sort of. Corporate owners have this little idea: they'd like their many stations to make money, preferably lots of it. Standardization (of formats, of "back-office" functions) saves money. But it doesn't necessarily make for idiosyncratic or highly creative radio.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Paul,

I love it when I see you've got a chat going on!

I didn't get to hear the Sports Junkies yesterday, but did they make any announcements that this change would be taking place at noon?

I'm not their typical demographic (black female, 34), but I enjoyed their show. The new format is disappointing.

Paul Farhi: Not a word. I listened to them in their final half hour, and they were riffing along as usual. Word is, they got the news after their shift was over.

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Arlington, Va.: I'm curious as to what happens to the station's advertisers? I'm sure they had contracts with the advertisers, are they just going to be refunded their money?

Paul Farhi: The usual mechanism is to give advertisers spots on other stations owned by the company. The advertisers have contracted for reaching so many people, in this or that demographic group, and this can be accomplished on other stations.

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Washington, D.C.: Rock and roll isn't dying, Paul, it's just that the good stuff is buried under the tons and tons of crap that the corporate payola stations play. The only real tragedy here is that DC 101 isn't going away as well.

Is there any chance that the demise of WHFS will spark some interest in good college radio around here? I can't believe that Georgetown or GW don't have a bigger radio presence in the city.

Paul Farhi: The lack of a good, big college station is one of the most glaring deficiencies of radio in the Washington area. None of them (UMd., Geo'town, George Mason, Geo. Washington) has a signal that reaches much further than the last dorm room. The biggest "stick" is owned by American University, but WAMU-FM is an NPR news/talk station, with a little bit of music (Howard U., by the way, used to own WHUR).

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: do you think that commercial FM will be extinct for anything innovative? and for the displaced listeners,can i suggest alternatives like the BBC's 6 Music, which is available online and WOXY.com?

Paul Farhi: Streaming audio is a great alternative for anyone seeking an, um, alternative to commercial radio. I don't know the ones you mentioned, but I love exploring all the stuff that's out there. One problem, I find, is that it's tough to connect up to the internet while I'm rolling around in my car...

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Washington, D.C.: I think it's just a continuing trend. The Bayou...remember that institution? The Key, the Biograph (except for the porn movies)... all gone and replaced with some box retail outlet.

Sad, but in a way we created brought it on ourselves.

Paul Farhi: Yes! Let's face it: In a democratic/capitalist society, WE are ultimately our own worst consumer. If there was a huge (or at least big enough) market for hippy-dippy, free-form radio, a la HFS in its glory days, some one (or some company) would probably be running over its grandmother to put it on the air. The fact is, there isn't. Even WRNR, the alternative alternative rock station, has cut back on the rambling deejays and other artifacts of the 1970s. It's cold out there, people...

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Washington, D.C.: Alright, I'm coming from the teenager perspective, and we really did rely a lot on this radio station because, quite frankly, DC101 is terrible. Now, WHFS got booted and everyone's mocking HFS for getting rejected. First off, a lot of people annually attend the HFStival, which is the second best music event for pop culture behind KROQ. What will happen to that? Are we going to end up having to sit in the cold weather during the boring Chili Cook- off? And also, the format that they went about taking it off the air was preposterous. Just another way of showing the the executives had no idea how to break the news to the general public, so they decide to keep them hanging, and not give a definite answer why it was ever booted off. They quite possibly will see protests as large as the World Bank. Did they think about this either? Alright, in the D.C. Metro area, there are at least 6 million people who don't listen to WHFS. That's fine, but what about the 4 million that did?

Paul Farhi: Thanks for your perspective. But your estimate--4 million--is high by a factor of 100. WHFS captured about 1.6 percent of the total radio audience (people over the age of 12). That's 1.6 percent of the 4 million people in the Washington area. I know you kids have fancy calculators. Do the math.

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Washington, D.C.: I heard a story on NPR on the radio industry a few months ago, that talked about how some stations are rejecting the cookie cutter "moderat rock" format and going back to the album rock roots because they're losing listeners. Is there a market for a station in D.C. like WXRT in Chicago, which plays pretty much what it wants?

Paul Farhi: Well, for alternatives, you could try WRNR, if you can get it, or WTMD-FM (out of Towson) if you can pull that one in. But on the basis of the evidence thus far, I'd answer your question this way: No.

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Cincinnati, Ohio: I certainly appreciate the mention of woxy.com!

I urge you to check it out, it's one of the best stations on the planet and the only source I have for exposure to new music. I'm 41 with kids and no time to hunt for music on my own. 97X is the place where I go to keep up with the latest.

Paul Farhi: Thanks, Cincy...

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Laurel, Md.: No question -- just want to say I have hundreds of whfs radio broadcast tapes (60 and 90 minutes) from 1972 through closing in 1983 including re-records over eight track tapes. And, many hundreds more from WRNR from 1993 until the historical period ended with John Halls firing in 1999.

The point is Washington radio, save WGMS, disappeared years ago. Is Mr. Jake Einstein listening?

Will you please come out of retirement?

Paul Farhi: Sounds like you've got a real treasure trove there, Laurel. I've always wondered if anyone wanted a TiVo/VCR for radio. Sounds like you did the heavy lifting yourself.

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Alexandria, Va.: Do you think that these petitions or swarms of phone calls or letters, etc. do anything? Or is this Infinity's "final answer"?

Paul Farhi: No. It's a little late for that.

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Falls Church, Va.: I think you're right, you have to go even further "way back in the day." I still have my tape of the Signoff of WHFS show from when they turned off the station at the Triangle towers, in 1982? And though they came back relatively soon after on 99.1, it never had the same magic to me. Maybe you're even righter -- it has much more to do with missing lost youth; in my particular case, somewhere in between the two stations I graduated from college, started life as an adult...

That said, I turned on 99.1 this morning, I think the first time this century, and thought it was pretty good -- a fairly wide variety of definitely listenable songs, which although I don't speak Spanish that doesn't make a lot of difference. I'll turn it on sometimes. That's more than I can say for the old 99.1, at least from what I would hear when I turned it on in the mid & late 90's. So probably the owners are doing the right thing. We all change.

Paul Farhi: Thanks, Falls Church. Good advice: I'm going to give "El Zol" a listen...

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Lutherville, Md.: Do you believe the Sport's Junkies arrival was the death knoll for HFS? It seemed that no music was being played at all anymore. The long-time fans who stuck with the station through all the years finally gave up when they came.

I switched to XM Radio's station Ethel when the Sport Junkies arrived with their sophmoric Sports talk. This was totally out of place with alternative music. And they had Erlich on their program all the time. They seemed to be out of touch with the youth market the station's demographic would appear to be. Combine this with Loveline and you hardly had any music at all.

I do believe when they did play music the past year the music was of higher quality than it has been in years. Bands like the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Keane and Modest Mouse were definite improvements over the Metal and Pearl Jam wanna be bands they have been playing the past five years or so. Not the quality of music they played in the 80s but it was an improvement.

Paul Farhi: As much as I enjoy the Junkies, you make an interesting point. While the Junks' audience was not out of step with the music's audience, it was talk, and that might have led to some discontinuity problems. In fact, the Junks did try to play some music early in their WHFS stint, in order to solve this problem. But not sure it was ever really reconciled...

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Arlington, Va.: In truth, WHFS died years ago. It just took a while for the body to realize it's head had been chopped off. Haven't had it on my radio dial for three years or so.

R.I.P for the original WHFS;
Good riddance for what passed lately as alternative music.

Paul Farhi: Well, you stayed with it until three years ago. That's pretty recent, considering what many see as the long, slow decline of HFS.

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Annapolis, Md.: On various message boards, much has been written about WRNR being what WHFS used to be. Many of the old WHFS deejays are now at WRNR (Damien, Dave Issing, Bob Waugh and Rob Timm). Damien has been there since he was booted from 'HFS years ago and he's always been, well, Damien. You can't change him -- not like you'd want to, anyway. When the others came over from 'HFS, I thought to myself, yeah, maybe the glory days of 'HFS are here. But I'm afraid that what happened to 'HFS will happen to 'RNR eventually.

As an Annapolitan, I'm very proud of our locally owned, locally broadcast and eclectic radio station. However, I've noticed a disturbing trend lately. They aren't as "freeform" as they were in years past. I'm hearing the same songs over and over. Also, the self-promotion is getting out of hand. After just about every song, there's a soundbite about "we're not owned by the man," or "we're the true alternative," or "you're part of special club." I know that I'm listening to WRNR, you don't need to keep telling me! If you have to keep telling people about how hip and cool you are, you're neither hip nor cool. Today, they ran several soundbites like "No habla Espanol," or "Corporate radio sucks." I agree that Infinity and Clear Channel are monsters, but that was pretty classless. Just let the music do the talking. That's why we tune in.

There's been some speculation about the company that owns WRNR trying to strenghthening their signal to reach a larger audience. I'm afraid that if that happens, WRNR will become extremely popular, like WHFS did. Then some company is going to see the value in the station and offer the owner's a boatload of cash. I hope to God that I'm wrong and that, years from now, we're not lamenting the demise of WRNR.

Paul Farhi: Right, right, right. RNR has been changing its more maverick ways, although it's still alternative-y. But your point is well taken--"popular" isn't always "good."

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Potomac, Md.: One aspect of the 'HFS format change is the increasing corporatization of radio -- and that's really a major, major problem in radio. The buying-up of radio stations by large corporations is destroying radio, homogenizing the stations and taking away the funky, grassroots, community-oriented, mom-and-pop feel that used to permeate radio. Now, it's all corporate, from the DJs to the programming to the segments to the morning shows to drive-time to, well, everything -- and, again, it's destroying radio.

Radio needs progressive stations, and it was simply a mistake -- yes, a mistake -- to change WHFS' format, ratings be damned. I was told by some folks that the station still makes money, or, that is wasn't losing money. So a station gets by on low ratings, and with such a rich legacy and tradition and with a needed format, and a corporation decides to just change its format? It doesn't make sense, and I don't really buy the whole Spanish-music thing as a rising trend. I believe the new station will fail more than WHFS did in recent years.

What Infinity should have done is make WHFS into what it once was -- a true, pioneering, risk-taking progressive station where DJs played what they wanted, and DJs played tons of local music. Imagine that! The PR, good vibes and word of mouth would have probably propelled the station in the ratings, and increased its respect in the community. And the station could still make money. I believe this what Infinity should have done -- and they blew it. Now they're the villain, they've destroyed a great radio legacy in the region, and, well, they're just another dumb corporate monster.

Meanwhile, it's great news for 98 Rock and DC-101, both of which should jump on the festival opening, and host a huge spring music stadium festival to take the place of the 'HFStival. 98 Rock and Dave Hill, the promotions guy there, should start working on The 98 Rock Music Festival today.

By the way, Damian Einstein heads up WRNR, which is a great local progressive rock station -- but the reception once you get near D.C. isn't that great. But if you get into the Annapolis area, immediately switch your radio dial to WRNR -- it's a great station.

And Weasel can now be heard doing nights on 94.7, and yes, he DOES give tons of musical history and background, exhibiting his extensive musical knowledge, which is from his head, and not from cue cards in the studio. And I know Weasel, and he is indeed a very nice, social, knowledgeable and caring guy. The same goes for Damian. Many people say the real decline of WHFS started the second that they coldly dismissed Damian and Weasel -- you could feel the decades of tradition start to fade at that moment. Thank goodness both of them are still on the air in our area.

Paul Farhi: Okay. Thanks.

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Clifton, Va.: I started listening HFS back in the early 70's when I was 13 years old. Liked the variety of music they played and could always talk about new bands before they became big. My little brother would always comment why are you listening to that weird crap. Heard the Police of HFS before they were top 40 and the same with U2 and Springsteen. Stopped listening in the mid 80's when they became more mainstream. Makes me feel old when I can say I have listened to Cerphe for over 30 years and followed him up and down the dial. I hear WARW is going Korean next month.

Paul Farhi: Hahaha! For the record, no, it isn't.

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Potomac, Md.: Funny aside to the whole WHFS mess: Longtime rock radio rival (and, yes, popular station in the D.C. area, too, despite being always tagged as only a Baltimore station) 98 Rock, WIYY-FM, yesterday afternoon and this morning held promotions in which station representatives were posted at public places and then accepted donations of WHFS merchandise from listeners -- and, in return, 98 Rock gave the listeners 98 Rock merchandise! So, people turned in their WHFS stuff and got 98 Rock stuff in return! Also, the station has printed a T-shirt that says, "Adios, WHFS!" Finally, this morning, 98 Rock's popular, and funny, morning show, Kirk, Mark and Lopez, aired about seven minutes of polka music with a guy saying, "98 Rock, all polka!" as a satire on WHFS' drastic format change to Spanish-music. It was pretty funny.

Paul Farhi: I get 98Rock just fine, all the way into the District, and I occasionally listen (I like KML). But it's a different kind of music station than DC-101 is, or WHFS was. More metal, less alt.

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Washington, D.C.: Clearly there was some thought taken with their final song selection so they must have had more than just a few hours notice... Do you think the staff had any idea?

Paul Farhi: A few people must have known, obviously. By the way, z104 sent off WHFS today with R.E.M.'s "End of the World As We Know It," which I thought was a better choice than WHFS' finale song, "The Last Goodbye." But see, there's the problem: WHFS couldn't even program it's own death. Adios...

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Paul Farhi: Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. Check out tomorrow's paper--we'll have a bunch more stuff on The Aftermath of the format change. See, I told you plug-o-la R us! Hope to catch you again for the regular chat on the 25th. Regards to all...Paul.

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