Friday, January 14, 2005

Feast your ears no more

While we're on the subject of music, let me take a moment to bow my head in recognition of the passing of a giant. WHFS, a legend in DC radio, is no more. The demise comes after protracted decline in which the word "progressive" eventually came to mean "white boys willing to use the word 'fuck' in a song" and "alternative" was warped into something akin to "mainstream" (much like the political world, no?).

But back in it's heyday, WHFS was the jewel of Washington culture. When I was in high school, before HFS got bandwidth and moved out of Bethesda and developed playlists, etc., you'd strain to get it on the radio and put up with the fuzz and static just because it was so goddamned excellent. They had this assortment of DJs all of whom were so undeejay-like: weasel, damien, and some British guy who had a night show where he would play the freshest UK punk. If you had a local band, you could bring a record by and hang out with them while they played it. From Laurie Anderson to the first Dischord pressings to Einst├╝rzende Neubauten. You name it. Anyway, I'm just saying it's a sad day. HFS provided the soundtrack for my young life. In the middle of the Reagan era with everyone sucking up as much of the "before" part of Bonfire of the Vanities as possible, they made you feel like maybe you weren't nuts after all if you gave a shit about something other than greed and power.

Washingtonians seem to be taking it hard despite the fact that the station has been past its prime for a long time now. As an aside, let me say that both Washington Post articles characterize DC101 as HFS's competitor, which I find a bit astonishing. Clearly, I have been gone for a long time. When I lived in DC, 101 was a headbanger station that pioneered shock jocks. In fact, before he was world-renown, Howard Stern was simply a plague on Washington at 101. Though in a decision they must still rue, they fired him when he called Air Florida the day after a plane crash in Washington that killed 70-something people and asked how much it would cost for a one-way ticket to the Fourteenth Street bridge. Somehow, a few years later, they determined to keep the Greaseman on staff after he, on Martin Luther King Day, remarked that we should "kill four more and get the whole week off." Good god I wish I was making that up. So you see folks, the world is not newly fucked up. Hatred and bigotry are not some innovation dreamed up by the radical right. They're just the newest head on the hydra.

But I digress.

Good bye WHFS. Thanks for playing musical nanny for so many of us when we were growing up. You've been missed for a long time really, but now it's official.

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