A year ago, it looked like the struggle over the young, hip demographic would occur between the new "classic alternative" K-Rock (96.5) and a newly reformatted the End (107.7) ["Getting the Competition Dialed," Jan 1, 2004]. Jump forward 365 days and K-Rock has completely fallen out of step with music trends and is focusing on the long-gone heydays of Everclear, Bush, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers while the End makes aggressive moves on the local and national musical landscape. Interestingly, in 2005 it looks like the new music listenership tug of war has shifted to the corporate-owned End and listener-powered KEXP (90.3).

Take, for example, two recent developments with the End. Starting January 7 the station begins a campaign aimed at raising $50,000 for local all-ages, nonprofit venue the Vera Project--a worthy cause that KEXP previously would've championed. This comes after a yearlong push by the End to become more integrated with the local music community--besides KEXP DJ John Richards' moonlighting gig as the host of Sunday night's Northwest music program, the End sponsored a Seattle stage at their eclectic Endfest this summer and promoted and sponsored various local shows around town (KEXP has always sponsored and promoted buzzworthy local and national shows around Seattle).

The corporate station's other recent announcement focused on a weekly punk show. Titled Gabba Gabba Hey! and hosted by Rob Femur of the Femurs, the program airs Saturdays at midnight--the exact time when KEXP's own punk show, Sonic Reducer, wraps up.

While most cities are lucky to have one decent indie-rock/college radio station, we have two variations on the theme from which to choose. This is relevant because KEXP relies on listener contributions and making its mark as a community- and new music-focused station. Toward that goal, the station continues hosting a variety of specialty shows from reggae to rap to roots music, focusing heavily on their Web presence (and sponsoring shows nationwide). Their efforts have yielded a committed international Internet and terrestrial listener base.

Competition is healthy for the music community, and it's hoped both stations will use the desire for continued new listenership to dig deeper in creating their playlists and sponsorships. Seattle radio should support edgier independent music in every instance and a vareity of genres. Let's hope the End's local support is more than lip service and moves beyond indie-pop-friendly artists. The same goes for KEXP, which, in all its impressive dedication to new and emerging artists, would benefit from expanding beyond its base of indie-rock-centric bands in regular rotation to more adventurous artists in various styles.

New Capitol Hill bar news: This weekend, look for Pine St. watering hole Bus Stop to open in the empty space next to the Cha Cha.


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