A week ago, last Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 12:05 pm 99.1 WHFS was taken off the air. 99.1 WHFS played “alternative” rock for almost twenty-eight years in the Washington/Baltimore area. They now play Latino/Spanish salsa music! 01-12-05 at 12:05 WHFS abruptly and without any type of warning to its listenership changed format and fired all of its employees.
Unfortunately, ratings were the reason for this format change. WHFS had become a secondary station for many radio listeners in the Washington/Baltimore area. As a matter of fact I didn’t even have WHFS programmed into my radio anymore.
I was a religious listener of WHFS while in high school and college and it never left my dial unless I traveled out of range. After all, WHFS was one of the leading stations in the area to break up in coming band such as “The Flaming Lips” and “Oasis”. Without WHFS I would have discovered “new” bands months later than WHFS would debut them. Without WHFS I would have never made it through the all-nighters where I stayed up writing papers or my thesis. They also aired “Loveline” every week night from 10pm until 12am which I listened to routinely and gained an informal education while in college.
Though I never attended one, WHFS put on one hell of a music festival every summer. I would often hear the festival broadcast live and often wished I was there (except the summer when several people where killed and injured from the lightening strike). The festivals are what people will probably miss most about WHFS.
Why the downfall of WHFS? Only the management can truly answer that question but I have two observations. One, WHFS Disc Jockeys often seemed as if they were talking down to their listeners and not to the listener. It was often hard to relate to the Disc Jockeys as they seemed far removed from reality at times. Second, the type of music they played, “alternative” while in style in the 1980s and 1990s is no long alternative. Alternative music has now become so fashionable that its now really considered mainstream rock and pop.
Yes, it’s sad to see something that was once such a staple in people’s lives come to such a downward spiral and eventual death. Now the competition is smaller as 98 Rock and DC 101 are the last of the remaining true “all rock” stations. I do like 98 Rock and their Disc Jockeys seem to be fairly entertaining but the music programming has a little to be desired. This is why, like H. Stern, I am switching to commercial free satellite radio next weekend. It was either learn Spanish and then date a Puerto Rican woman so that I could continue to occasionally listen to WHFS or just switch to something such as satellite radio as an excuse to spend more money and purchase more gadgetry for my vehicle.