Indie88: One year in review

William Lou
September 11, 2014
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

While it has only been a year, it is already hard to imagine listening to radio without Indie88. Kicking off its official launch on Sept. 3, 2013, Indie88 recently celebrated its first birthday, leaving me to reflect on all that it has achieved.

Upon release Indie88 sought to offer an alternative to top-40 pop hits, and the increasing lack of variety that 102.1 The Edge was offering, hoping to provide an outlet for “indie” music that didn’t get the attention it deserved.  While it was hard not to cringe at the idea of anything explicitly describing itself as “indie,” I couldn’t help but feel excited.  Radio to me had become the primary way to expose myself to top-40 music – something I do enjoy – and the idea of discovering music outside of that genre was something I had all but abandoned.

So what happened? Well, the station certainly took some time to find its bearings. Having grown to resent the stale playlists of The Edge, I was skeptical when the station started off playing some of their tried and true favourites.  This Edge nightmare included, among others, a collection of Bob Marley tracks to chill you out, a strong mix of Arcade Fire, Metric, and City and Colour songs to comply with Canadian content laws, and an uncomfortably large amount of Rise Against.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Arcade Fire as much as the next guy, but those bands weren’t exactly expanding my musical horizons. In fact, more often than not it seemed 102.1 The Edge looked to play only tracks that were popular three years ago, refusing to dip their radio toes into a pool of artists that were popular, but not receiving radio attention. I wanted to find out about someone new. I wanted a change of pace.

I quickly began to realize that Indie88 and I shared a very similar vision.  Whenever I tuned in, popular artists like Vampire Weekend, Alt-J, and Bloc Party filled the air just as often as Arcade Fire or Metric, creating a fresh balance of tracks that catered to a wider audience. Moreover, instead of simply relying entirely on Dallas Green and Emily Haines to uphold Canadian content laws, Indie88 played artists like Purity Ring, Caribou, and Hannah Georgas, further adding to the variety. Indie88 even made sure to flip through a few 80s classics and other artists that younger audiences might not be familiar with, to further mix things up.

The more I listened, the more I found new songs I liked. As time passed, it became a kind of unwritten rule amongst my friends to just put Indie88 on by default, as it had “something for everyone”.  While the station is still far from perfect, it has helped to shake up radio in the Greater Toronto Area, and for that I am truly thankful. So happy birthday Indie88, keep on bringing fresh music to commuters everywhere. To quote the high school yearbook classic: “you rock, don’t ever change.”


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