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February 20, 2006

Rest in Pieces

Corporate radio has claimed another victim.

Rest in peace, KZON 101.5 FM, The Zone. CBS has finally gone and killed you once and for all.

The call sign's still in use, as is the frequency, but now it's "FREE FM," a completely soulless and ClearChannel-esque "edgy" talk radio station. Seriously. And yet somehow CBS still has the cajones to sponsor concerts in the station's name.

By ClearChannel-esque, I of course mean there are effectively no DJs or local programming left. It's all ye olde uplink from corporate HQ now. Here's the line-up posted to their site for weekdays:

0500-1100: Syndicated talk radio.
1100-1600: Syndicated talk radio.
1600-2000: Syndicated talk radio.
2000-2300: Syndicated talk radio.

Interesting programming for a station still purporting to be "Arizona's rock alternative" in some of their bumpers. Don't get me wrong, the AutoDJ does play music that resembles alternative when FREE isn't crapping out unoriginal talk programming designed to do nothing but bring CBS higher Nielsens in the Phoenix market; it just also happens to be off the "oldest and most overplayed alternative hits of ten years ago" compilation.

In CBS' defense, they do "support local bands" with a whole two hours on Sunday. As opposed to the locally owned, locally operated independent alternative station which (a) actually plays music and (b) plays good local artists throughout the day instead of sticking them in the 7-9pm ghetto.

So, to the Zone as a nebulous object: Rest in peace. I'll keep my good memories of you.

And to all the former Zone jocks and engineers from the good old days, especially the string of shafted morning show hosts: Thank you. Thank you for the good times, the great music, and all the work you put into making the Zone the best damn station in the Valley. It's a shame Infinity/CBS couldn't appreciate your talent, repeatedly sending scads of you on "vacation" and altering the format into blasé crap.

Johnny Cash had it right.

Posted by Colin at February 20, 2006 1:53 AM

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