Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Planet Radio: 1994?-2010

Everyone had a favorite radio station growing up, right? For me, that radio station was Jacksonville's alternative rock station: WPLA 93.3 FM, commonly known as "Planet Radio". And as of two weeks ago, Planet Radio is no more.

So...here's a quick history of Planet Radio: sometime in middle school, I started listening to Planet Radio because that's what a lot of my friends* were doing. I then discovered that I liked this whole "alternative" rock thing, and eventually started buying cassette tapes and everything! (It took me a while to catch on to CDs.) Planet Radio was pretty much the only radio station I listened to for the next six years. It was awesome. I liked the music, I liked the name, and I liked the DJs. I also liked that there was another radio station out of Greenville, SC named "The Planet" (subtle difference) with a similar music format and the exact same frequency (93.3) as Planet Radio. Greenville's "The Planet" still exists today, but Jacksonville's "Planet Radio" does not.

(* - Whether I had any actual friends in middle school is debatable.)

Planet Radio changed a lot since I left town, though. It seems like they've had about 15 different morning shows over the last 15 years. Their frequency changed from 93.3 to 107.3 a few years ago. And at some point, they changed their format from "alternative rock" to "new / modern rock". I think the change means that instead of playing Alanis Morissette and Barenaked Ladies alongside Creed and Nickelback, they now just played Creed and Nickelback twice as much. I welcomed the change at the time, but my music taste has changed a little since then (Nickelback and the 15,000 bands that try to sound like them = poop), and now I think I actually liked the original Planet Radio the best. Today I much prefer "alternative rock" over "modern rock", and apparently I'm not alone, either: the station that effectively put Planet Radio out of business (X102.9) markets itself as an "alternative rock" station. That's interesting, because I thought the term "alternative" was dated, and that the word "alternative" would forever be linked to the style of rock popular in the mid 1990s, and never again be used to refer to anything new. So, woo!

Even if the term "alternative" isn't dead yet, I'm going to take a wild guess and say that most "alternative" stations that were around in the 1990s have gone under or changed their format since then. For example, I don't know if Raleigh's 96rock was ever technically an "alternative" station, but they changed formats literally the week I moved here. They went from "new rock" (or something) to more of a new rock/classic rock hybrid, playing Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd alongside Nickelback, etc. I think a lot of alternative stations from the 90s have done the same. Given the success of X102.9 in Jacksonville, is "alternative rock" back? Or do people listen to X102.9 not because of the subtle difference in format, but because they have few commercials and no DJs?

Well, anyway...I didn't really like what had become of Planet Radio over the last decade, and X102.9 is a much better radio station, and I much prefer college radio and NPR these days anyway, so I'm not sad to see Planet Radio go. Good riddance, in fact. It's just too bad they had to take the name down with them.

1 comment:

James Allen said...

On Sirius Satellite Radio (which I do not have) there is a station that plays nothing but 90's alternative (Lithium 24). Yes, an "oldies" station of sorts. We are old.