Indie88 Countdown

Indie88 CountdownAt right now you'll find a countdown to their launch on July 31st at noon. Their tagline is "giving great music a home" and this is what they're touting on their countdown page:

We're giving great music a home and want you to be part of it. Tell us what you think and wanna hear. When the countdown is over, just hang a left on the dial until you hit 88.1 FM.

Adam Thompson is the Program Director and Alan Cross is helping him as an "in house music counsellor" which he says is "a more fun term than consultant."

It all sounds promising and I'll be listening with high hopes.

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And being 1st makes me wonder what song they'll introduce the station with.
Easy money is on "Spirit of Radio" by prog-rockers Rush.
How about "In The Street" by Big Star, an indie band if there ever was one.

July 25, 2013 @ 8:31 PM


Just got Rick'Rolled!

July 25, 2013 @ 8:35 PM


And Freddie P. and Neil Young said radio was dead!
Sure doesn't sound like it from what I am reading on this blog.
Saying radio was dead is probably the most stupidest statement of this decade.

July 25, 2013 @ 8:38 PM

Indie Dog

A song that Canadian classic rock has burned into the ground based on the slogan that another station used 35 years ago and is synonymous with David Marsden who works for another competitor is a great way to kick off a new station, that's for sure!

Freddie P. has shown time and time again that his opinions are entirely based on whoever happens to be paying him. This new station isn't trying to win over ranty old men.

July 25, 2013 @ 9:16 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


The Replacements - Left Of The Dial

July 25, 2013 @ 10:24 PM

Name Redacted

Indie 88.1 will target females & will more than likely sound like Jim Pattison's 102.7 The Peak (Vancouver) and his upcoming 95.3 The Peak in Calgary, AB. It will have a small, loyal audience much like WFNX Boston or Indie 103.1 in LA had. If the station stays focused on it's target market it could be successful much like G98.7 has been.

July 25, 2013 @ 11:22 PM

Craig S

Gump, you can't possibly think "Spirit of Radio" would actually be a *good* idea.

Don't get me wrong, I mourn CFNY as much as the next guy. I certainly want a station that's going to *be* as adventurous and innovative in today's context as the old Spirit of Radio was in its day -- but that means carving out its own new identity, not just trying to literally revive the old Spirit. It means playing "new music" from today, not 30-year-old "new music" from when I was in high school.

The song that's been getting the most votes on Facebook, at least the last time I checked, is Arcade Fire's "Ready to Start". Much better idea.

July 25, 2013 @ 11:40 PM


Oh sorry, I was thinking about Q107, who now have fully (inappropriately‎) appropriated "Spirit of Radio".

How about anything from Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music". That'll show 'em!

As for their playlist, is this going to be "indie" or "AAA". True "indie" isn't sustainable, is it? Can anyone explain this for me.

July 26, 2013 @ 12:20 AM


I believe the station is owned by some wealthy unidentified person who is just in it for the love of it.

July 26, 2013 @ 12:54 AM

Craig Schiller

In actual practice, "indie" as a genre tag in 2013 mostly just means "modern rock that's mellow and/or introspective enough that you could slip it into an AAA playlist without freaking anyone out". So if you can explain what the substantive difference between "indie" and "AAA" would even be in that context, by all means lay it on me.

July 26, 2013 @ 1:28 AM


"Indie", in my mind, suggests an independence from a pre-packaged format and the announcers/dee-jays have a strong input into the music being played.

There are independent bands out there that are fantastic and deserve more airplay and there are also some great "corporate" bands out there that should be played as well and not marginalized because they have deep pockets.

A true “indie” station would be free to play all these types of music without fear of reprisals from their listeners or the corporate structure.

This is what CFNY was back in the day

July 26, 2013 @ 7:32 AM

Indie Dog

The owner runs Rock 95 in Barrie. This is basically the same formula. (It also means not having a Bell or Corus-level budget.)

Comments from people who think a radio station in 2013 "should" be like 30 years ago are a waste of time. We are all just one click away from a better distraction. A station needs repeated familiar songs to keep people alert.

July 26, 2013 @ 8:06 AM


I already have a preset on 88.1 in my car. I think the comment about The Peak is accurate. Since I stream Vancouver's The Peak from time to time, I won't mind much if 88.1 is similar. I can leave The Peak on for hours and not have to tune away because I don't like what I hear. I like the idea that I will hear artists and tracks that are not heard (often) elsewhere, and there will be no such thing as a two hour rotation. At least now Toronto and I have an alternative.

July 26, 2013 @ 8:44 AM


The original CFNY Spirit of Radio wasn't Indie. It's success & storied musical history is for 2 reasons:

1. CFNY embraced Canadian content that wasn't getting airplay elsewhere. In actuality CFNY did what the CRTC hoped for with Cancon. Go out and find some music in this country & support it versus what a record label paid them. And much of that new Cancon was not really rock in the normal sense. CFNY was the first to play Sarah McLaughlin (Steaming) but did not heavily play (or at all) Tragically Hip - Small Town, Bring Down.

2. The pillar to CFNY's success was playing music that was popular in the UK (Top 40) but that didn't chart here. In those days the UK scene was exotic and foreign. Your only ways to find the music were by reading NME or listening to John Peel on shortwave radio. The fact is Smiths, New Order, Depeche Mode were Top 40 in the UK, not exotic "indie" music.

And while it's not mentioned much, CFNY did introduce North America to EDM/rave culture. It was 102.1 that played S'Express, Guy Called Gerald and many other huge club songs. It was Club 102 and Deadly Headley that introduced us to the EDM/rave scene. And at that time, that was the hottest, coolest music in the UK. Go to Youtube and watch "How Clubbing Changed The World". I'll toss in that it was 102.1 that introduced us to bands like Public Enemy on their club shows & in regular rotation.

Will Indie 88 be the next CFNY? No, because it can't. There is no longer "exotic foreign" UK music to play because it's a click away. Where Indie will likely shine is introducing Canada to many of it's great bands that get little airplay. That's exactly what The Peak in Vancouver did. Bands like The Boom Booms, Sidney York, Elliot Brood, Current Swell, etc all received airplay thanks to The Peak. The Peak was essentially a CBC Radio 2 "lite" and for some likely acted as a gateway to explore further.

Will Indie work? Well The Peak has nearly the same numbers as CFOX & it has 2 competitors (Shore 104 and CBC Radio 2 when all combined are a 10 share). So I think it's feasible that it would work in Toronto if the owners have patience

Finally, for those of you who claiming Indie should be a continuation of Edge you're absolutely wrong. Today's indie music scene has little to do with the current pablum that is alternative rock. It should not play burned out crap from the Tragically Hip, NiN or any other burnt to a crisp 90s or 2000's band. If you are hoping for a return of the "good Edge days" then you aren't their core audience. Nor should you be and that's a good thing.

July 27, 2013 @ 10:36 AM


I was hugely into Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Stone Roses, Jesus and Mary Chain, La's, Pop Will Eat Itself, The The, Therapy?, Lush, Curve, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Chapterhouse, etc., just because of CFNY. To name a few.

July 27, 2013 @ 12:17 PM



I was a fan of CFNY from the early 80s to about late 1987ish. In 1988 the station went through changes & turned me off. I used to sleep with the radio on and clearly remember waking up one morning to H&F playing Paula Abdul.

Around mid 1990, the station returned somewhat to it's original form, but was more a diverse & very good UK style pop station. Remember 13 Engines? Or Pure? Or Lowest of the Low? Or Crash Vegas. That was CFNY in the early-mid 90s. From about 1992 the station started a slow, downward spiral & at the time it pissed me off. Yet I look back and I realize back then the station was playing Sarah McLaughlin, Tori Amos mixed in with plain old guitar based rock. Can you imagine Dean Blundell playing Tori Amos - Winter?

Dug this up. Reminds me Parkdale right near Queen and Roncies. Gritty neighborhood where I'd occasionally find a working girl in the back yard performing a trick. And I could walk over to this now closed dive bar/hotel. I can't remember the name but it had some awesome punk shows. The something hotel.

July 27, 2013 @ 12:32 PM


I remember 13 Engines and Pure very well, and still listen to them regularly. Pure's guitarist passed away tragically last year. (Also love Pursuit of Happiness, and the first Sloan ablum.)

I just listed those particular bands because you mentioned CFNY bringing the UK scene to Toronto. It sounds like it was quite unique for most of the North American market in that regard, evidenced by the whole "who the fuck are the Stone Roses?" meme with respect to Coachella.

July 27, 2013 @ 1:31 PM


Coachella is an interesting phenomena. It's the defacto standard for indie music festivals in North America yet has recently added EDM (Electronic Dance Music) to the line up. The Swedish House Mafia were headliners either last year or the year before & there was a good number of electronic bands at the festival. It makes sense too because the two styles of music share the same audience. Both indie and EDM come from the same type of roots; they're organic styles of music that were mostly ignored by the mainstream. David Guetta was around a decade before anyone in the pop music industry thought about having him produce a song.

EDM and Indie have always crossed over too. In the early era of indie/alternative, 102.1 played stuff like Kraftwerk, Book of Love, or even The Blow Monkeys. In the second incarnation of CFNY it was Daft Punk, FatBoy Slim, Daft Punk & the Prodigy back to back with the guitar rock.

Have to wonder if Indie 88 is going to dabble in a bit of EDM in the format. The Peak in Vancouver has mostly refrained though they play Get Lucky from Daft Punk.

I can remember this song starting and hearing a "102.1, CFNY FM, The Spirit of Radio". Can you imagine this getting played on their "retro show"?

July 27, 2013 @ 1:58 PM


Not that dissimilar from early Depeche Mode.

But I mean, CFNY used to play this: if the embed didn't work

July 27, 2013 @ 2:14 PM

Craig S

"Indie" doesn't really convey a total freedom from genre barriers, Wayner. Maybe that is what it implied once upon a time, but officially all it ever really meant was "smaller record labels instead of the big megacorporations" -- and it's since gone through the same kind of reification that "alternative" (which once had the same "no barriers" connotation, remember) did in the early 1990s. Today, more than anything else "indie" really just refers to a particular style of mostly guitar-based pop/rock music.

Just look at who the really iconic "indie" bands are: Arcade Fire, the Shins, Broken Social Scene, Fun, the Black Keys, Tegan and Sara, Feist...these aren't exactly artists who are operating a million miles outside the musical mainstream, you know? And for that matter, Indie 88 even listed Adele on the sample playlist that it attached to its CRTC application.

"Indie" artists can and do still get playlisted on CFNY, for instance, and "indie" artists can and do make the leap to CHUM-FM/Virgin 99.9 playlists too. Yeah, you'll hear some artists who haven't really gotten onto Toronto radio before -- but if you're expecting a playlist that has *no* overlap with the radio stations you already get you're going to be really disappointed, because that's just not what "indie" means anymore.

What's important to realize is that "indie" labels and "indie" radio stations are, after all, still businesses that still want to make a profit, and are thus still going to go after artists who have marketability and audience appeal. So you were never going to get a station that was all local garage bands and Tuvan throat singers and obscure Kensington hipster genre-bending stuff -- it was always going to sound more like a cross between the hipper end of a CHUM-FM playlist and the more adult end of the Edge 102 playlist than anything else.

July 27, 2013 @ 2:22 PM

Craig S

Irvine nailed it, just for the record: something very similar to Vancouver's "The Peak 102.7" (which you can legitimately call both "indie" and "AAA" at the same time) is exactly what we were always going to get. I've been wishing for a Peak in Toronto for a while, so that fact doesn't disappoint me -- but we were never going to get the genre-busting "anything goes" range of a college radio station, and that isn't what Indie 88 ever promised in the first place.

July 27, 2013 @ 2:37 PM

Craig S

"From about 1992 the station started a slow, downward spiral & at the time it pissed me off."

To be fair, Irvine, that's exactly the period when "alternative" started transmogrifying from what it meant in the 1980s into "an endless parade of Nirvana and Pearl Jam clones mooking it up for the fratboy audience". (And it's exactly when "indie" started emerging as a tag for those artists who would have been "alternative" in the 1980s but were left out of the new version, too.)

So yeah, I'll definitely agree with you that the station started circling the drain in the 1990s, but it's not entirely the station's own fault -- the entire genre of "alternative" started circling the drain once it was suddenly the new mainstream, and the station's only real sin was staying with the genre as it spiraled. (And even then, it wasn't until 2000 that I officially deleted Edge 102 from my presets, because it was still the only place outside of "Brave New Waves" where I might occasionally still hear the good stuff.)

July 27, 2013 @ 2:55 PM


Those who think this station is going to be some kind of island of awesome in the middle of the polluted waters of crappy music radio- hold your breath.
I hope I'm wrong, but if this station is run anything like Rock 95, prepare yourself for the beacon of radio mediocrity.

Last I looked at the 88 website, they described as indie music and music that 'sounds indie, like Talking Heads' ... Now, do you think you're going to hear Psycho Killer, Crosseyed And Painless, or Born Under Punches peppered here and there between great indie tunes? Well. if it's run like 95, you're going to hear Burning Down The House, everyday, at 305 pm. The DJ might talk about great Talking Heads tunes, and maybe a bit of Byrne gossip ( that they read the headline of, from the Yahoo home page), but then they're going to play Burning Down The House- again, and again.

July 27, 2013 @ 5:17 PM


@Craig S

I agree but I think the decline in rock was just as much about the rise in "beat" orientated music (hiphop, dance, etc). It was really a paradigm shift.

For quite a few years I had both a radio show & an online station. It was around 2004 I started noticing the rise in indie music again. I acquired an American sub for Sirius and started listening to "Alt Nation 21" which was Sirius' "Edge 102". It kicked ass. The station made me like the format again & played stuff no one else touched. It's sister station "Left of Centre" and the tag "North America's Indie Rock Station" complimented it nicely. I didn't care that it was voice tracked just that it played good new rock. I'd turn on Edge and hear a burned out cut from Green Day. I'd turn on Alt Nation and hear Yours To Keep from Sweden's The Teddybears (you know it as the Virgin Mobile song). Toss in a few iPod commercials too.

And since those times the momentum has never died. Perhaps it's because both indie rock and EDM were "organic". They had never had radio play but instead built a following by focusing on their music instead of their E talk interviews. Suddenly, in a sea of mediocrity they got noticed. These musicians could flourish because they made their money touring not from selling records (like Tiesto).

As for the Rock 95 ownership that honestly doesn't concern me. That's a station that serves Barrie & a station that works for Barrie-Orillia (though the signal travels much farther). It's no different than what I'd expect to hear in Thunder Bay or Red Deer. A rock station with the staples that appeals to the lowest (and largest) common denominator.

Indie is different. The low power of the station might well be it's saviour. It will force it to find a small, loyal audience & stay true to it's roots. Someone mentioned G98.7 and that's a perfect comparison. G98.7 is a low power "black" station. I've read that the station's advertising is sold out. I'm a fan of that genre and the programming is awesome.

PS. CBC Radio 2 in Drive does some very good AAA-Indie programming. Unfortunately it rarely markets itself & the block programming make people forget what it's playing.

July 27, 2013 @ 6:18 PM

Jason Patterson

Have fun listening with high hopes, Mike. Let me know how it goes.

July 29, 2013 @ 7:04 AM

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