The radio market out here really fascinates me. Denver is hardly the hippest city in the nation, or even in the Mountain States region, yet our radio choices are lively and different and plentiful. I'vd written before about the late, unlamented Martini on the Rockies, which has now morphed into something called Indie 101.5, playing the choicest of current indie rock. It's really kind of shockingly good.
What's really remarkable is how well they choose the older stuff they play (and how unapologetic they are about playing older stuff). This morning I heard PJ Harvey's incredibly fierce "Sheela-Na-Gig," which I've heard on the radio maybe once before in my life. (Is it supposed to go "Put money in your idol hole," or "Put money in your idle hole"? Maybe I'm better off not knowing.) Every so once in a while you hear a song on the radio and think, "That's the best song I'm gonna hear all day," and that's what I thought when I heard "Sheela-Na-Gig."
Still, there was some competition: This afternoon, I heard "See a Little Light," from Bob Mould's Workbook, heretofore best known as the last vinyl album I bought before getting a CD player. This suggests that someone at Indie 101.5 is programming the station by rummaging through my record collection circa 1995.
What makes it even bolder is that there's already a Modern Rock station in town, which the offhandedly cool Indie DJs dismiss as teenager music. I'm not a teenager, so I wouldn't know. This idea of taking a format another station is already purveying and doing it better seems pretty common in this market. A year or two ago a station called KCUV started playing smart adult-alternative rock, sort of like WXRT in Chicago, in direct competition with the World Class Rock of the venerable Boulder-based Whole Foods-ish KBCO. KCUV closed up shop last Labor Day, but God bless 'em for trying.
But yeah, "Sheela-Na-Gig." Greil Marcus once wrote a whole column in Esquire about how alarmingly great Sleater-Kinney's "Start Together" was, but concluded that it could never be a hit because it would make everything else on the radio sound silly. That's probably what happened to "Sheela-Na-Gig." Hide the small children and anyone with a heart condition: