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City feels loss of last alt rock station

Imagine that one day, you’re riding in your car, and you’re about to turn on the radio. You like modern and alternative rock. You like bands like Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Nirvana, Green Day and up-and-coming bands like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand. For years, Y100 has been your modern and alternative rock station, playing nothing but songs you like, including many songs that were not played by any other local radio station. You turn on your car radio on Feb. 25, 2005, and you’re greeted by … rap and hip-hop?

That’s exactly what many loyal Y100 listeners experienced last month. After 12 years, Y100, a Radio One station, was pulled off the air. If you think that fans were caught off guard, imagine being a Y100 DJ like Electra.

“Normally on Thursdays, the Y100 air staff had a ‘jocks meeting,’ where we sit around and talk about station events and happenings,” Electra said. “On Thursday, Feb. 24, I came into work around 11:15 expecting to have a meeting, but instead, I found out that I’d just missed the announcement that Y100 was no more. I hung around for a while, crying and talking with former co-workers and then went home to listen to the last several hours of the station.”

Everybody was caught off guard, and many were left asking how this could have happened. Y100 (WPLY-100.3 FM) was replaced by The Beat, a station already in Philadelphia at 103.9 and also owned by Radio One. The consensus is that Radio One wants to have more stations that appeal to Philadelphia’s large African- American demographic. 100.3 gets a better signal than 103.9 and, even though Y100 had a higher profitability and market share, Radio One felt that the stronger signal would get The Beat better ratings. However, instead of simply switching positions, like 94.5 PST and 97.5 The Hawk just did, 103.9 will now play gospel music 24/7.

With many students at the college loyal listeners of Y100, it is no surprise that some were very upset. Angela Crawford, freshman elementary education major, was “deeply affected” by the loss of Y100. “It’s the only station that plays modern alternative rock and that’s what I love,” she said. “I can’t believe that they would turn off such a great station like that.”

Philadelphia is now the only major city in America without a modern and alternative rock station.

Lauren Breslin, freshman health and exercise science major, also misses her favorite station. “It was just such a great station because it gave fresh and up-and-coming bands a lot of air play and exposure to a huge audience,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many bands whose songs are played on different radio stations got their first air play from Y-100 … two months before (the other stations).”

One example is Good Charlotte, whose air play on Y100’s nightly “Cage Match” was their first major exposure.

Many Y100 listeners can’t understand why a modern rock station that was doing so well could be replaced by a rap station. “There are at least three or four stations already playing rap and R & B in Philly,” Crawford said.

However, there are fans of rap and hip hop music in South Jersey who are happy about the change.

Though there are a few stations in Philadelphia that play rap and hip hop music, there are differences between them. The Beat had a tough time competing with stations like Power 99, 96.5, and even Q102 because the signal at 103.9 was really too weak. Also, according to fans, The Beat has the best variety out of any of these stations, along with DJ’s and staff members who really care about their station.

The great thing is that not all hope is lost. Even though you will get an “under construction” message if you visit the old Y100 website, y100rocks.com keeps listeners updated with information about the future of their favorite station.

“The y100rocks.com movement has been noticed all over the country!” Electra said. “Various newspapers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have published stories and radio industry publications have championed us too. The big coup was when Rolling Stone ran an article about the loss of modern rock in Philadelphia and the state of rock nationwide.”

On the Web site, fans can keep in touch with DJs, listen to the online station, hear about concert announcements and get together with other fans who miss the station. On March 5, a rally was held to bring attention to the loss of the radio station. Over 500 people attended.

“I thought it was really inspiring,” Electra said. “It’s a testament to the power of the Internet that hundreds of people could be called together in such a short period of time to speak their minds in public. There are so many loyal Y100 fans out there.”

Visitors of the Web site can also sign an online petition to get Y100 back on the air. Upon publishing this article, the petition has over 60,000 signatures in only a month’s time.

Electra, along with all the other Y100 staff members and thousands of loyal fans, hope that something will happen soon. “We still hope that another company will see that there’s a hole in this market that can – and should – be filled with another alternative rock station.”

– To check up on all the latest developments, and to sign the ever-growing petition, visit y100rocks.com.


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