Goodbye to The Future of Rock and Roll

None of you reading will even come close to understanding what this means to me, except for maybe my former KTXT cohorts (and fellow WOXY peers).  I just finished listening to an archived mp3 I kept of Bakerman’s final words before WOXY-FM went dark in 2003.  I was listening that night, and, like today, I wept tears for the staff, listeners, bands, and friends who had lost their cool older brother – the one that introduced them to so much cool music.  I was only in high school, and I had only been listening to 97X for maybe two years – but, man, what a great station.

I first became interested in radio at the age of ten, not through 97X, but Z93 (KQIZ-FM in Amarillo, then a Top 40/CHR station).  I listened to it daily; once the music became repetitive and boring, even for my adolescent ears, I started paying attention to other things: the sweepers, the commercials, the DJ banter.  I became curious about who picked the music, who programmed the station, who curated the cool local events.  God, I wanted to do that when I grew up.  Those people, to me, were the coolest people in the world.

Shiv, Mike, Bryan, Sledge, Barb, Bakerman, Joe, and all of the staff of WOXY past and present were ALSO the coolest people in the world (and they still are).  When my teenage awareness kicked in and I realized that corporate radio did, indeed, suck, I found a new love for radio (and indie rock) through 97X.  My passion for the medium was re-ignited, and joining the coolest student-run station in the world, KTXT-FM, once I entered college, only heightened it.  I was doing something I loved; I was the music director for an acclaimed college radio station, entertaining and educating, playing my favorite music and building a resume to do more of the same once graduation came around.  Hell, maybe I could’ve even worked for WOXY!  That would’ve been a dream come true!

But with the loss of KTXT last year, and now WOXY today, I have once again had a wake-up call: radio I wish to become a part of is nowhere to be found.  There is no solid way to maintain a profit while educating the masses.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too in this business, at least not for long.  Job security does not exist.  Radio=bottom line.  Radio=lowest common denominator.  Radio=dead to me.  What I once lived and breathed is now nothing more than a pipe dream, a child-like fantasy of the past.  I guess it’s all part of growing up, realizing that the real world is there to crush you, caring nothing of work you’ve put in, plans you’ve made, or goals you’ve developed.  After watching the empires crumble, I feel, as a 23-year-old radio nerd, I’m allowed to be cynical and jaded.

Anyone who gives two shits about exposing masses to amazing, cutting-edge “alternative” music through the medium of radio should care about what has happened today.  Those of us who have followed the station since its move to Internet-only have already seen this before.  But news of WOXY’s recent move to Austin gave me hope that, finally, the station had a solid financial backing.  Obviously, this was not the case.

I really have nothing more to say, except that if you care anything about the future of media, the future of independent radio, the future of community and history and legacy, and the future of rock and roll, you will shed a tear today for the sudden closing of WOXY.COM. We need stations like this, stations like WOXY and 6 Music and KTXT, if only to have SOMETHING with personality, with a sense of community, with a passion for music and the artists who make it.  Because for too long, conventional radio just can’t cut it.  They can’t do what those stations did.  They can’t be WOXY.

And so I leave you with a mini-documentary made in 2009 before WOXY made the move to Austin from Cincy – it gives a great history of the station and its legacy (featuring a bit on its inclusion in the movie “Rain Man”) – and a small sampling of songs I discovered back in the day when I first became addicted to 97X.

Bam….goodbye, once again, to the Future of Rock and Roll.

WOXY DOC from Zachary Herche on Vimeo.

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