It’s really been a long time since KDGE/102.1 FM “The Edge” was on the “cutting edge” of anything, but still, there’s something sad about Wednesday afternoon’s news that is has dropped modern rock after 27 years.
National website RadioInsight broke the news, saying that iHeartMedia pulled the plug on the alternative format — although it would be more accurately called “modern rock,” because it just wasn’t as alternative as it was in its early days.
The Edge went on the air at 94.5 FM on June 30, 1989, with a mix of, according to a Star-Telegram report at the time, [mostly] a good blend of current music. Elvis Costello, Midnight Oil, the Communards, lots of reggae -- Ziggy Marley [and] Bob Marley, UB40 ... Love and Rockets, the Cure, the new Bob Mould, the Indigo Girls, Caterwaul, Crowded House, Tim Finn.”
In a 2014 interview with George Gimarc, who helped design the format and was one of the station’s founding DJs, I mentioned how the station introduced me to British bands such as Happy Mondays, Soup Dragons and Stone Roses (I moved to Fort Worth less than two weeks before the station went on the air). I asked Gimarc how often he heard similar stories.
"I hear [them] once a month for the past 25 years," Gimarc said in a phone interview. "It's mostly because I have such an odd name that people recognize the name, and the conversation starts with, 'You wouldn't happen to be ...?' And then it's, 'Oh, I used to listen to you all the time.' "
Gimarc said that in the early days, the station strived for a balance. “We would make sure we played some real guitar-heavy bands. That could've been the Cult or, later, Nirvana and Pearl Jam. We'd also have the Americana sort of sounds, the R.E.M./10,000 Maniacs. You'd have the pop stuff, which would be like Annie Lennox/Eurhythmics. Then you'd have the kind of disco/boogie/gay Erasure sort of thing. And we had the silly novelty stuff like the B-52's or Devo. And that became the stew. That became the mix.”
That mix exploded in 1991, when Nirvana broke through with Nevermind and the grunge revolution started, and lasted till 1993 or early '94, thanks to an ownership change. Gimarc says that the station's new leadership wanted a more chart-based format and that he was shown the door.
“It became a lot more focused,” Gimarc said in 1994 (the interview was pegged to the station’s 25th anniversary). "Sometimes that focus went in different directions, through the next 20 years. Sometimes that focus was guitar bands. Sometimes it was bands that were doing pseudo-metally rap things. Then it went to kind of Ace of Base kind of pop stuff. It kind of meandered from pole to pole.”
The station underwent a couple of ownership changes, and switched to the 102.1 FM frequency in 2000.
If you try to listen to the Edge online, which is the way I listen to radio stations in the office, you will be redirected to the website of sister station KEGL/97.1 FM. There is a lot of crossover in the music on the stations, as the Eagle often plays harder-skewing alternative acts. But at the time RadioInsight reporter the flip, the Eagle wasn’t playing music, of course; it was playing The Russ Martin Show.
RadioInsight reportes that a new format will debut at 5 p.m. Thursday. IHeart could be trying to still some thunder from rival KLUV/98.7 FM, which is expected to do its traditional switch from classic hits to a Christmas format any day now; the station with the Christmas format tends to rule the Nielsen Audio ratings for a couple of months.
“The final songs on the station were Foo Fighters All My Life [and[ Fitz & The Tantrums Out Of My League,” RadioInsight reports.