video title: The Power of Indie Radio
video link:
video source: SacTVnews
uploaded on YouTube March 12, 2012

more info: Playlist
duration 5:00 minutes

When Indie Radio Beat
Corporate Radio "Video of the Day" review by Alex Cosper on March 12, 2012

This video offers a look back at indepedent radio station KWOD 106.5, which moved from bottom to top of the ratings in Sacramento back in the 1990s and helped elevated modern rock music sales in the region. KWOD was the leading rock-based station in town between 1993 and 1996, as other stations began to mimick KWOD's playlist. KWOD had a history of developing interns into air talent and letting them develop their personalities organically as opposed to a treating them like scripted robots, which became the corporate wave across the dial. The music was more creative and inviting than strange. Basically, the station projected its own unique local spirit.

KWOD staff members featured in this video (that I narrate) include Brad Adams, who worked on air afternoons 1992-1993 and later various shifts. Brad fronted his own bands such as Octavia and Counterfeit, both drawing cover material from modern rock tracks played on KWOD. Octavia featured more of Brad's original music. Sean Parkinson appeaers at the time he advanced to an on air position. Tom Boman talks about his club DJ experience that he did in addition to weekend air shifts. Adam Smasher, whose voice was heard by all KWOD listeners through recorded messages, explains how one day in April 1991 he decided to change the format from top 40 to a wider mix while the boss was out of town.

The station emerged not only as grabbing the highest market share of any alternative radio station on the west coast, it was also one of the most successful independent stations in the country at that time. Corporations began taking over radio after the Telecom Act of 1996 lifted restrictions on radio ownership limits. In 2003 KWOD was acquired by Entercom and most of Sacramento radio by then was corporate. The ironic result was much lower ratings and a disappearance of KWOD's identity as a cultural resource, then KWOD left the dial in 2009 due to low ratings and was replaced by a station that got even lower ratings. This video serves as a reminder that big isn't always better and that stations can actually succeed by going against the grain with creative programming and word of mouth.

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