EDM: Before we had a name for it

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A new neighborhood. A new pirate radio station.

I moved in the summer of ’07 to a new part of town, which college students still dominated. And it only took about half a week before I found myself setting up my Canakit part-15 broadcasting kit and coat hanger antenna. It was time for “FM 99,” my third attempt at an underground student station since I’d come to school.

Giving the audience what it wanted

My previous two stations suffered from a terrible selection of music. Lots of 70s and 80s oldies dominated Q959fm.  Channel 9-9-9 had lots of pop music, but it didn’t offer anything new. Why make the effort to listen to hit music on a crackly anemic FM station when the real pop music station was just to the left a bit?

The newer crop of students were so entrenched in listening to their own MP3s, I saw a very cloudy future for my pirate station (let alone a future of radio in general).

It was EDM. But we didn’t have a name for it.

I guess I called it a “dance music station.”

There weren’t many to compare it to. I was heavily influenced by the late Energy 92.7 & 5 in Chicago, which went off the air in 2003. For a short time, KDL in Los Angeles scratched my itch (I actually drove all the way to Los Angeles to listen the station over the air before it changed to an alternative rock format). KDL Dallas?  There weren’t many.

Today this would’ve been called an EDM station. It was a good try. But the students at my school were white kids into rock music and emo crap. So I never built the audience I hoped for.

The horrible “Bobby Boogie” morning show

Content is king. People aren’t going to tune in just for music, no matter how well-crafted a playlist is (and I ain’t good at crafting playlists).

But people like morning shows, right? So, I created this guy named “Bobby Boogie” who would tell jokes, debunk myths using Snopes, and chat with his smoker friend “Hollywood” about gossip. I figured it was a winner.

Created no buzz. And I’m glad. The show was terrible. I was going through the motions, but it just sounded forced and fake. And the jokes were really, really, really, really lame. Like “turn off the radio” lame.

I’ve since learned people like to tune in to hear themselves on the radio. I guess that’s why the station had only one consistent listener.

The day the dance died

I got so frustrated that nobody was listening to the dance format. Perhaps they were, but it wasn’t creating any buzz.

In a case of stark irony, I flipped the format away from dance music back to pop music. Yes, I am guilty of making the same decision so many dance-radio station owners did during the 90s and 00s. I had a great music format going and I watered it way down in an effort to attract more listeners — and it failed. It teaches me that corporations really are people. Just big, dangerous people with a lot of money at stake.