I'm mostly pumped about the whole relaunch of WHFS, now streaming live here and on 97.5 FM.
WHFS was a pretty important station to me back in my early days in Baltimore. It turned me onto to the likes of the Pixies, Nirvana, and Beck—bands/artists I still listen to and love to this day.
But when I heard they were relaunching, I assumed they would be playing today's alternative music, giving me a chance to perhaps discover some new artists to add to my collection. Instead, the station, right down to the old DJs (hey there, Gina Crash and Neci!), is mostly a big ol' 1990s nostalgia fest.
Okay, fair enough. I'm still happy to hear Cake, Smashing Pumpkins, and Jane's Addiction any time of day. But what about the alternative music of today?
Which actually got me thinking: What even IS the alternative music of today? I'm not talking the really underground stuff, but the kind of stuff WHFS used to play, the oxymoronic "mainstream alternative"?
Kings of Leon immediately sprang to mind. (Now NOT appearing at theater near you.) Maybe MGMT. Perhaps the Black Keys. Vampire Weekend? Sleigh Bells? The truth is, the lines between genres has gotten so blurred lately (is Mumford and Sons pop? alt-country? folk? And what about Adele?), it's kind of hard to identify what alternative is.
What's more, in a world where people are custom-making playlists on Pandora and Spotify, radio stations are no longer dictating what people listen to. No one feels compelled to claim an allegiance to a particular genre of music. So maybe the whole idea of an "alternative rock" station is pretty much defunct. Alternative to what? (Even the word alternative feels quaint. Today, it's all about being "indie.")
That being said, WHFS is now streaming Stone Temple Pilot's "Vaseline"! Excuse me while I put on a flannel shirt and head over to the Club Chuck to discuss Monica Lewinsky.