Thursday, January 13, 2005

Stands for "Whiffs"

Well, the big story from yesterday is the end of venerable "alternative" station WHFS, now transformed into El Zol--the Hot Hits of Somebody's Barrio. WHFS signed off yesterday after spinning Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye"--the irony being that here someone at the station plays a song that was direct-ordered by some advertising company, and it's their last. And even so, it still feels like a cliche.

Perhaps the best thing WHFS could have said about itself in its waning years was that it could totally have been a great radio station if it had wanted to be. The blogosphere is divided between those who rue its passing out of nostalgia, and those who are baking up great big good riddancecakes. I can feel both sides.

I remember back in the day not every buddy's car being able to even pick up the station from where we resided in "We're Not Dead, We're Just" Reston. The 99.1 signal was coveted by all of us who lived in Band Camp County, despite our creeping suspicion that Baltimore was filled with sad, sketchy, shady people. Even back then, 99.1 could have been a whole lot better--let's not shit ourselves. But it was a breath of fresh air from the inanity found elsewhere on the dial.

When WHFS started its decline, I wasn't around to witness it. But I was aware of its pointed falling off by the time I got to Richmond to join the dirty pretty things at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts for graduate school. At that time, in the capital of the Confederacy, we had WVGO, which was some sort of sister station to HFS (there was another, purportedly, in Boston...WFNX maybe?). When you listened to VGO in 1994, it sounded like HFS circa good old days. All the same shit: Daily Feed, My Three Songs, et al. Lots of opportunities for local bands. Lots of promotion for area venues. And they'd actually take the lead in promoting national acts: I was mystified by the cool reception Joan Osborne was getting from other people I knew until I found out that the vast majority of the world were introduced to her through the lame Hooters song "One of Us", while VGO listeners had been hearing the more representative "Saint Theresa" for months prior.

WVGO met an even worse end than HFS. After agreeing to broadcast the Howard Stern show, WVGO was targeted for termination by the types of Red State assclowns who would turn every town in America into a rancid jizz tostada if they were only given half a chance. In this case, WVGO was set upon local grocery tycoons the Ukrops family. The Ukrops were straight up Gangstas of Quasi Piety--in a Ukrops store, you couldn't buy alcohol and they were closed on Sunday. What didn't garner a lot of attention is that the Ukrops also owned and operated a chain of stores called Community Pride that were in the black neighborhoods, and, dontcha know that the cause of temperance didn't exactly find its way into THOSE stores! Hypocricakes.

Anyhoo, the Ukrops got a whole buncha money raised so that the other alternarock station could make VGO's corporate masters an offer they couldn't refuse. And so we in Richmond lost VGO and were then subjected to a station that proudly called themselves "The BUZZ!!", and you don't need to have come from a major radio market to know that those sorts of stations are like pouring stomach acid on your own genitals.

When I got back to DC, WHFS was in a kind of malaise, and soon they were becoming the home of white boys sans flow and earnest mid-tempo baritonica. Though the DCeiver family received one last moment of WHFS happy when our skilled ticket obtainer pal Elissa won Nutcracker tickets and took the Wife of DCeiver to see Beck, Tori and the Foos at 930. Sadly, The DCeiver himself did not attend, though the stage manager of the show I was in at the time valiantly had sex with the people she thought could help me out. In the end, though she scored whereas I did not.

So, whether you're crying or harshing or doing a little of both, you'll probably on some level, miss HFS. Personally, I can't listen to anything but WAMU these days anyway. That DC101 Morning Douchebag makes me want to punch things, most espesh him. It's the end of an era, but tonight, the Washington Social Club are in residence on Carson Daly's show, and somewhere, out there, a shin-high music critic is writing a bad review and is totally pissed off at me but they're living the dream, man. Will wonders ever cease? No. Wonders will not stop their cold and pitiless march until you are cold and dead.


Anonymous said...

Ukrop's never owned community pride.... it was a company owned by black entrepreneur Jonny Johnson. They supported his business, helped him in various ways, and avoided direct competition so that he could succeed. They never owned it.

Anonymous said...

You didn't think it was odd how they installed their Ukrop's pharmacies and their cute little banks (owned by Ukrops) at every Community Pride store? Even a moron could tell there was something more going on than just good Christian altruism!!!

Anonymous said...

Ukrops has made a lot of money teaching its customers to accept mediocre produce, meat, and prepared foods. They have succeeded in developing a brand identity around quality, while in fact much of what they sell is no better than what one could find in Food Lion or Winn Dixie for a lot less.

carter.haruka said...

ha you think what happened to stern was bad here's the rest of the story. later on 'vgo was bought out by i think clear channel and merged with a truly god-awful station the buzz, within 6 months the buzz was dead and later on became just another boring rap station, later on a about 2 - or 3 years ago for april fools day wvgo was brought back but only for the day , but now we do have two (aledgedly modern rock stations) BULLSHIT they both suck BADLLY y101 which is awfull and the old xl102 which is even worse, but there are good stations just not in richmond radio iq owned by virginia tech has a mirror that you can here if your in the far west end, or if you live in the 7 cities there's 2 REALLY Good stations BOB FM it just plays all the good stuff that 'vgo and it's sister station THE COAST played, and if you're into heavyer stuff there's MAX FM just PURE SHITKICKER Rock no emo no winners AND ABOVE ALL ELSE NO CRAP.