WOXY still exists, but it’s no longer a commercial broadcast station. Since 2004 WOXY has been an internet-only station streaming cutting edge indie rock with real live DJs. But the WOXY I’ve nominated for our top 5 commercial station countdown is the WOXY that once broadcast at 97.7 FM from the Ohio college town of Oxford.
I first wrote about WOXY last August, prompted by the internet release of a short documentary about the station by filmmaker Zachary Herche.
Even in the late 1990s when I first heard WOXY the station stood out a fresh of breath air in the Dayton-Cincinnati radio dial. In fact, it would have been unique in any US radio market at that time. As far as I’m concerned WOXY pioneered the modern indie rock format that has found a home on public stations like Seattle’s KEXP and Minneapolis’ the Current. Featuring a playlist that has a more strict rotation than college radio, but much looser and free than most commercial formats, these modern indie stations appeal to an audience that doesn’t want to be beat over the head with commercials and the same 20 songs all day, but also isn’t quite up for the sheer unpredictability of a truly freeform station. It’s interesting that WOXY pushed that frontier on commercial radio, but it was never as profit-motivated like a Clear Channel station.
Late last year WOXY moved from Oxford to Austin, TX. Listening to the station recently it seems to have absorbed its new home town’s music scene quite well, representing Austin in a way similar to how KEXP represents Seattle or the Current represents the Twin Cities.
It really quite tragic that the commercial radio business seems no longer able to support stations like WOXY. However, there is some solace in knowing that the internet seems to be hospitable environment. Nevertheless, there are still listeners in cars and other internet-deprived locales who can’t yet enjoy WOXY. While the current generation of teenagers is the most wired ever, I still imagine there are culturally isolated teenagers living outside Oxford, OH or Austin, TX who don’t have good internet access, for whom finding a rare broadcast station like WOXY would be like an oasis in the Clear Channel desert.
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