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Indie88, Toronto's newest radio station, flips the switch

Posted by Bryan Smith / August 1, 2013

Indie88After weeks of hype and what may have been the longest Rickroll of all time, Indie 88.1 officially hit Toronto's airwaves yesterday at noon. The dawn of a new era of Toronto radio kicked off with, quite appropriately, an epic Alan Cross promo, followed by Arcade Fire's "Ready to Start." Admittedly, it gave me chills.

The rest of the music played in the first hour was all over the map, and depending on who you talk to, it was either completely awesome or a huge letdown. I'm more inclined to lean towards the former - simply put, you're not going to hear "Paper Girl" by July Talk, "I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon, and "Lose It" by Austra on any other radio station in the city. Sure, there were a couple of questionable song choices, such as MGMT's "Electric Feel" and Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" (ok, that one is a HUGE misfire), and yes, we're all terribly sick of Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait." Those tunes aside, it's clear that Indie 88.1 is aiming to regularly offer listeners a fresh alternative to what we're used to. And any station that plays music from Whitehorse is a-ok in my books.

If you expected them to play nothing but unsigned local acts and truly indie Canadian bands, you have to understand that the word "Indie" in the station's name primarily refers to the fact that it's an independently owned and operated station. While they're going to play indie music, they're also going to play tunes that appeal to a broader audience - radio is a business, after all.

My advice is to tune in, give it a listen, and see what Indie 88 is all about. I sense a very bright future for the station.

Hi Indie 88. I think Bryan hit the Indieā„¢-sound vs independent music nail on the head (have you seen that Miley Cyrus movie LOL? I mean it's called LOL. Cyrus's crush is in a Snow Patrol-esque band which is described as "indie." No girls in LOL touch musical instruments.) I'm just going to add a couple of things: I expected Indie 88 to be exactly what it was in its first hour: guitar-centric, almost entirely male fronted bands, with brooding, sensitive macho-ness in place of traditional rock's rugged brand of macho. I totally get the need to build a following playing music many people like. I just want to let you know that once you get on your feet, I'm interested in hosting a late night drone & psychfolk show, so hit me up.



jameson / August 1, 2013 at 08:32 am
I actually laughed at loud reading the pretentious from this. Clearly an indie radio station will NEVER EVER been cool enough for some people.

Like come on, no Unicorns or Frog Eyes played in the first 10 minutes? Jeez, this radio station is doing a disservice to society by pumping out the same post-colonial garbage as the rest of them.
jones / August 1, 2013 at 08:43 am
I thought Indie meant "independent music" most of the stuff they played are bands signed to major labels..

It was exciting when first hearing about this radio station thinking that some local and underground music would be back on the radio, but it seems more that they aim to shake hands with the big wigs.

big let down so far
Malcolm replying to a comment from jones / August 1, 2013 at 08:52 am
"you have to understand that the word "Indie" in the station's name primarily refers to the fact that it's an independently owned and operated station."

Send them your CV, Jones. I'm sure they're dying to hear from you.
Mike / August 1, 2013 at 08:53 am
More like Indie Golden Oldies. Needs to raise the bar a lot more and not just play it safe...
Anthony / August 1, 2013 at 09:25 am
I'm so over was like, sooo yesterday. :P
Stephen / August 1, 2013 at 09:25 am
If the station tries to appeal to a smallest group of listeners (i.e. the guardians of what "indie" means), then they'll ultimately end up with no advertisers, thus no station. Take the good with the bad.
Deric / August 1, 2013 at 09:35 am
I actually went to a focus/market research group for this station - and listened to over 800 songs (snippets) and voted whether they belong on this station.

I think the big thing in my head was that sure - Snow Patrol is not Indie in everyone's books, but having one or two mainstream songs will get other people listening to this station. Everyone likes hearing something they recognize once in a while.

The key to this station will be something other than a 20 song rotation like every other Toronto music station.
Mike / August 1, 2013 at 10:15 am
I swear I heard Love Shack yesterday
Sloane / August 1, 2013 at 10:17 am
Listening to the show this morning was like a trip back to what was indie seven years ago. I understand that an element of this might be the user choices, but when Santeria came on, I bounced.
CKLN sucked / August 1, 2013 at 10:56 am
Writer Bryan, You got chills hearing Arcade Fire's "Ready to Start."? My suggestion is that you get out more…..loser.
Todd Toronto / August 1, 2013 at 11:08 am
I listened for a few hours yesterday and thought it was great. Of course I didn't like every song, but I don't like every song on my iPod either.

But I do feel like they're trolling us with the name. It's not "Indie." Indie to me means largely unsigned acts or those signed to, you know, independent labels. Of course it would probably be next to impossible to make a go of it as a commercial radio station playing that kind of music, but I wish they had called it anything else.
Jenkins replying to a comment from CKLN sucked / August 1, 2013 at 11:26 am
Nice one, keyboard warrior.
Malcolm / August 1, 2013 at 11:31 am
Meh, the "indie" doesn't bother me, and I'm sure as they grow there'll be more variety. It's just nice to have a new Toronto area radio station that isn't talk radio or sports centered.
Albert / August 1, 2013 at 11:39 am
The station is INDIE not the music
Jacob / August 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm
I listened for a couple of hours yesterday. I enjoyed it, a lot. Much more than any other Toronto station.

It's flawed, but it has amazing potential. With mainstream artists, they just need to go deeper than smash hits from ten years ago.
Todd Toronto replying to a comment from Albert / August 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm
By that standard, couldn't every radio station north of Orillia call itself "Country"?
clearwater_soundtrack replying to a comment from jameson / August 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Isn't that what your ipod is for? Did you really think that it was going to be just for you?
Ugly Red Honda / August 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm
Probably just a coincidence, but the lightning bolt in the logo makes me wonder if they're somehow trying to echo/mimic Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles. (Arrived in 2003, used to be on terrestrial radio, now is just a webcast.)
Basshat / August 1, 2013 at 02:12 pm
All I ask is that the morning show pretend its listeners are adults and not go down the jackass route of the Edge.
mike in parkdale / August 1, 2013 at 02:27 pm
If Indie88 can be half as good CBC Radio 2's Morning with Tom Power or Drive with Rich Terfry, then they'll be doing great. The programming on those shows is amazing, even if they play some bigger international acts (which I really don't have a problem with).

The first song I heard on indie88 was Crash by Dave Matthews Band. Not exactly indie, and not something I'd ever put on, but it's a decent song, so they're batting .500 in my books.
Bloory replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / August 1, 2013 at 03:16 pm
Batting .500 is actually really good for a baseball player. Maybe you mean .250? Just saying.
Randy replying to a comment from Jimmy / August 1, 2013 at 03:21 pm
Hey Jimmy. Suck it.
Albert replying to a comment from Todd Toronto / August 1, 2013 at 03:24 pm
Sure - its all Marketing.
999.9 Your North Country Rock Starion
Randy / August 1, 2013 at 03:27 pm
I think they're doing a good job. You're not going to please everyone, so I'll deal with Of Monsters And Men every so often.

This is only a soft launch so I bet things will come together for their official launch in Sept. Bring on the announcers and commercials!!
Jesse / August 1, 2013 at 05:02 pm
I was excited...then I heard the Hip and I almost cried...but since Alan Cross has been playing stuff (admittedly, one short hour) I'm way more enthusiastic.

If we get even 25% of what KEXP gives out (yes, it will take time) we'll be 100% better off. Math!
Serge / August 1, 2013 at 05:58 pm
FINALLY. Toronto radio has a real dearth of young white people music. So thank goodness we finally have a radio station to cater to that demographic!
Linda / August 2, 2013 at 01:42 pm
I was wondering when this radio would be on air bc I saved this channel the other day on my mp3.

I live in the GTA and the radio sound is def not clear. Understandable since this a relatively new radio channel. However, I will probably top listening to it when I move to Hamilton.
Basshat / August 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm
So many people are hung up on the term Indie; in the radio world, this term seems to get used interchangeable with alternative/adult album alternative so I fully expect that a number of major acts will be on the playlist but that doesn't mean the station is a fraud.

I also find that the signal is inconsistent in Mississauga so hopefully that is juts the result of working out the technical kinks.
Jay / August 3, 2013 at 12:32 am
I've been listening the past few days... Been good, heard lots I've never heard before and some I have. I like it.
Donna / August 3, 2013 at 11:05 pm
Been Great SO far. A nice difference for us RADIO music listeners... A nice "alternative" if you will...
Franky / August 5, 2013 at 04:27 pm
This station is basically JACK FM but with more CRTC playlist meddling. In other words, music for 40-something "white and nerdy" males and their soccer-mom wives. I think I'll pass.
Jim / August 5, 2013 at 05:31 pm
It's true. This station is AWFUL.

It's even worse that they broadcast from Liberty Village, which pretty much sums up the demographic - 20/30 something confused condo kids looking to get married off and move to the suburbs.

Please take note from KEXP.
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