Live 105: Kill the Tagline

Warning: SF Bay Area local rant post.

San Francisco’s Live 105 is a radio station that has the tagline, “Fighting to Keep Alternative Music Alive in the Bay Area.” This irks me to no end.

In the first place, positioning yourself as an scrappy little alternative radio station when you are owned by CBS Radio aka Infinity Broadcasting is a little disingenuous. Secondly, making this your slogan makes the station seem like a loser, like it is on the fast track to becoming a jazz radio station. Wouldn’t a more positive or even a neutral tagline such as “San Francisco’s Only Alternative Music Station” position it better? By making yourself seem like a loser, you drive away listeners and advertisers. How about “The Bay Area’s Best Music?”

Thirdly, even if Live 105 went under (which seems unlikely since it’s been around since 1986 when I was a teenager (RIP KQAK The Quake)), alternative music would hardly vanish from the Bay Area, in the same way it hasn’t vanished from New York City, where there is no alternative station. Alternative music lives on the edges, on college radio stations, live shows, podcasts, and whathaveyou. There’s lots of places to find it now. It doesn’t depend on a single radio station, not even LA’s influential KROQ.

Look, I like Live 105. I’m glad we still have an alternative radio station here in San Francisco. I listen just about every time I’m in a car. But enough with the martyrdom.

4 thoughts on “Live 105: Kill the Tagline

  1. Dan,
    First off, thanks for being a longtime listener. As the architect of the “fighting to keep alternative music alive” statement – I view it as something more than a slogan or tagline – I wanted to quibble with a few of your comments.
    -I’m not sure how being owned by a giant company makes our cause disingenuous. To me, this is a central part of the issue. As I’m sure you know, virtually all radio stations are owned by large companies, and since most of these companies are publicly held (including ours), they’re looking for a high rate of return to keep their shareholders happy. You may envision CBS as having really deep pockets, but they’re not going to continue to operate a radio station they don’t see as economically viable just b/c they think it’s in the public interest. All of this makes it important that our listeners rally and support the station, so that we can continue to exist. All we’re saying is that, if you like what we do, show you’re support and tell a friend.
    –Just because Live 105 has been around a long time, doesn’t mean we’re going to be around forever. WHFS in DC was around longer than we were (twentysomething years) and they got flipped to Spanish overnight. More locally, KSJO was around for thirty-five years, they are now enjoying 4 times their old ratings en espanol
    –I also think that alt-rock is going the way of jazz. It’s not going to disappear, but it may never be a dominant cultural force again. There is an entire generation of kids behind who’ve grown up without any rock in their lives. Hip-hop is the dominant force in their lives. When those kids get older, and music starts to take a backseat in the lives of people our age, then who will be their to carry on the traditions of alt-music?
    –We are not claiming that we are the only source of alternative music or that it dies with us. We do think that Live 105 is sort of the “public square” for alt-rock, a place where people can turn to find out what the most popular things are in our little corner of the world. And while, alternative music would exist without us, most of the alternative records and concert tickets sold in the Bay Area happen through Live 105 airplay. Ipods and web radio are great options for many, but some people want a larger piece of the picture, and some people want to find new things to put on their ipods. We play a big role in that process.
    –We’re not claiming to be martyrs or lambs led to the slaughter. We’re fighting to keep alternative music alive because we believe in the value of alternative music. We use the word “fighting” because we want people to be engaged and understand that this is a serious thing. It’s not just about listening to Live 105, it’s about going to shows and supporting bands that matter, it’s about re-establishing a community of music lovers and making yourselves visible to the corporations that would take this music away without thinking twice.
    Anyway, that’s my two cents. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at or drop by the station some time. We love to show people around and show you how things work.
    Live 105

  2. Building on Madden’s comments.
    Since K-ROCK New York went of the air in January New York concert sales are down 35% in the rock genre. This is the beginning of a wave of live venue problems that dig much deeper than some quasi-alternative rock station going off the air. I have already talked to several managers of prominent Alt bands that are thinking of skipping their North American leg of their tour for next year because they can make more in Europe and Asia. This comes from the fact that in places like NYC these bands are guaranteed a major portion of the door receipts. Without a full house that money isn’t there.
    In other words little stuff means a lot. Blogs and My Space as wonderful, frequented and informative as they are don’t have enough broadcast (spreading the word) value in individual markets… thus the concert business suffers.
    The concert business is just a small part of the puzzle but it is one of the dominos on a larger table.
    So fighting… yeah there is a scuffle going on…

  3. I agree the tag line is nothing but corporate doublespeak. they also rign an annoying bell on the morning show “ding” wre #1 in (your city here) like there was some sorta Alt rock competition. Their entire attitude is “shut up and take it or we will leave”.
    Sign up for Sirius and tell them to shove their racist bell up their fake asses.

  4. Stations like Live 105 being corporate owned are the same as saying that the employees have medical and dental. That’s the only support you get from these corporate giants. CBS would much rather has an AC, CHR or crusty rock oldies station on that frequency. So when they (Live 105)say they are Fighting… yeah they are. For better or worst they pick their own music and scrap their way through the San Francisco market with little money or support for anything else.
    Enjoy your satellite radio experience. You and 5.7 million others out of 300 million population base. KOIT has more actual listeners than the entire Serius radio network. It will grow. But will it still be there in another 2 years as the medium has run out of cash options? This goes for XM as well. Satellite will never go away but who owns and operates the channels will change. Unfortunate but true. The wave builders in any field rarely reap the rewards of the wave they create.

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