An Open Letter to Indie 88.1 Toronto

Indie 88.1

As many of you may well know, there’s a new radio station setting up shop in the Toronto area. Indie 88.1 FM is getting ready to launch with a format including indie tracks and some focus on Canadian acts – as expected by our Canadian content rules.

How this station launches and how it grows will be dependent on a number of factors, not the least of which is what music will be played. There’s a stream available on their site (here).

One of my concerns is whether this will be a truly “indie” station or of it will be a station whose playlist includes indie music. The name suggests all indie, which I think would be very cool. The reality, I fear, will be far different.

I grew up in an age of radio where freedom was the watchword. Back in the day CFNY (now Edge 102) was out there playing music no one knew and really set the groundwork for bringing underground to the mainstream. CHUM-FM – 104.5 back in the early days would play whole album sides and had an open concept. Will 88.1 be breaking new ground?

Some might say mixing indie music with, as they say ‘songs that sound indie’ is just a cop-out. That would be me saying that by the way. Is this station trying to shake the ground? A station in such a huge market out there pushing ALL new music would have a chance to change the dynamics. I know this station will be living in the reality of a user-driven market as traditional radio slides by the wayside of the connected car (as radio is listened to most there). I am sure they are examining all the digital opportunities to make this a fully viable station for the long haul.

But are they willing to risk it all on a format that is totally new and try to truly break the mold? I know money dictates these days. They have an opportunity to appeal as a new young voice. Tech-savvy and user-driven. Will they lead in the music chosen or will they follow the fractured voices of consumer who want everything amounting to nothing.

My hope is they will take the risk. That they go completely indie and not wuss out by trying to mix in popular tracks. I want this station to define a genre and a generation. Risky? Sure. Within Can-con restrictions they can play a ton from around the world. And as a consumer of those bands, from home and far-and-wide, there’s brilliant music everywhere. Will we hear that? Or will we have to put up with known quantities they deem worthy?

I am pleading with the management of this station to go out on a limb. Indie-savvy djs with personalities designed to attract and make the new what it is. A ton more interesting than the crap we here every single day around this city.

And in order to push the point I asked every single indie band I follow to post a song. I know lots have and hopefully more to come. 88.1, take a leap of faith and lead Toronto to the new, the interesting, the awesome. Show those old-timer dying stations where the future is. Tell them 88.1 is standing on their grave with a shovel ready to bury the corporate standards. Show them money can be made without sacrificing quality. Show us you have the balls to lead the way.

This city deserves it.

Check out their site and their story here.

Disclaimer:  Alan Cross, whose site I do a weekly post for, is involved at this station.  That said, my views are mine and I stand by them.  Just wanted to make sure you knew!

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2 Responses to An Open Letter to Indie 88.1 Toronto

  1. larrylootsteen says:

    I’m no hipster and I would certainly love an all indie station, focus on Canadian but play stuff from all over. There is such an array of great music out there. There is no reason not to do it other than fear. The money will come if the music is good. Canadian indie mixed with known music will make it just another station. They need to be completely different to have a chance to flourish…

  2. Mike SPIKE says:

    Well I think there is a market for all Indie, because the hipsters are really into all things Indie. The boomers and Gen Xer’s are not the only ones dictating market places anymore.

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