Indie 88 FM in Toronto is on the air. Here are the first 24 hours

Indie 88.1 FM is Toronto’s first indie rock radio station in decades – and there’s been a lot of talk about what this exactly means. The word indie can mean everything from The Beatles (who released on an Indie through VeeJay, and don’t forget that Apple Records can be considered in this category) to Creation Records, Sub Pop, Secretly Canadian, 4AD, Domino and many thousands of others. Heck, even Taylor Swift and Adele can be considered on an indie label, since they’re both not signed to major record labels.

In Toronto, the big indie-rock station is no doubt 102.1 The Edge (CFNY-FM), playlisting Canadian artists as Stars, New Pornographers, Metric, Joel Plaskett, and we also have several campus radio stations like CHRY and CIUT. So, clearly, Indie 88 coming into North America’s 4th biggest radio market is a big deal. The CRTC noted that owners Rock 95 in Barrie had proposed an innovative slate of programming, described as “an eclectic, indie music format FM station focusing on emerging, independent artists from Canada.” The station began streaming online in April. The first song was Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.” Perfect, right?

The first song played on a new station is everything. It’s tempting to begin the listening experience to become an exercise in narrowing down that one song, that one track, that compasses the theme, the look, the feel for the radio forevermore. We all know “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles was the premiere video on MTV. Even the second video played, “You Better Run” by Pat Benatar was chosen carefully (a cute nod from MTV to the record labels on their ego-driven attitude), Indie 88 could have chosen this song to kick off the station:

or this:

or even this:

Instead, they a few minutes before Noon yesterday, indie-hungry Torontonians got this:

followed by this:

followed by this:

which seamlessly blended into this:


and then:

Rick Astey’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” wasn’t just the Best British Single at the 1988 Brit Awards and former #1 song in over 25 countries, he won the MTV EMA awards for “Best Act Ever” with the song “Never Gonna Give You Up”, as a result of collective voting from thousands of people on the internet, due to the popular phenomenon of Rickrolling. That’s an Internet meme involving a bait and switch; a person provides a hyperlink which is seemingly relevant to the topic at hand, but actually leads to Astley’s video. The link can be masked or obfuscated in some manner so that the user cannot determine the true destination of the link without clicking, as in getting an email from a friend that reads “Hey, did you see that great catch last night at the ballgame? Here it is!”

In a couple of weeks after Rickrolling reached a peak in 2008, about 13 million people had been Rickrolled into watching Astley’s video. So the song isn’t without merit. It’s a great first impression to a city salivating for a new rock station, even if CFNY has a lock on this market, and a leader in breaking new artists second to none in Canada. So, when the Music and Program Directors sat down and talked about meeting that high expectation, they came up with this.

with the second song being this:

Indie 88 is going to be playing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” every song, every hour, every day, for a week.

Just in case you forget how the song sounded, here it is:

That’s 22 times you’ll hear Rick singing the word “never,” per song, 88 times an hour (hey….maybe Indie 88 was onto something), 2112 times a day, 55,440 times a week. That’s a lot of negativity. You’ll hear the complete song 15 times a hour, 360 times a day, and 2520 times during their first week of airtime.

That’s enough to be #1 on the Canadian Radio Rock Charts this week over the current leader Monster Truck’s Sweet Mountain River by…oh….2,120 spins.

Wouldn’t THAT be something? Forget the royalty cheque the writers and producers Stock, Aitken & Waterman are gonna receive. They’re never gonna give, never gonna give up this free publicity.

Good one, Indie 88. You’ve done well, and we’re never gonna forget your splash into Toronto.