The morning was like so many others that had preceded it. I drove home from work listening to the AM drive show on WHFS. Everything seemed normal as the “Sports Junkies” chatted up a variety of topics. Often, (as was the case that morning) I would arrive home laughing hysterically at whatever it is that they were talking about. I continue listening on the radio in my room and, as they rattle off the previous evening’s sports scores or discuss the latest rumours from Hollywood, I drift off to sleep.
Just after noon on Wednesday, I was jolted out of my slumber—not by the sounds of alt-rock from the 90’s but, by the sounds of an incredibly loud mariachi band. My radio does not have a digital tuner; it uses the old skool dial, and on occasion it will drift off of a station. Assuming this was the case, in my half-awoken state; I stumbled over and turned the radio off.
Later, when I was fully awake, I switched the radio back on. As if they had been lying in wait, I was once again pounced upon by the very loud mariachi band. Unlike when the stations drift normally, the mariachi seemed to be coming in crystal clear… almost crystalier than the targeted station. I tuned down a bit: the country station—WMZQ. I tuned in the opposite direction: the pop music—Hot99.5. Back and forth I bounced, but whenever I passed where WHFS should have been, I got annoyingly loud mariachi. Frustrated, I finally concluded that the Mexicans across the street must be operating a pirate radio station out of their garage… à la Pump Up the Volume.
In the interest of national security, I was determined to report the violators to the FCC. After all, freedom to rock is one of the most sacred of amendments to our nation’s constitution. With my mission to locate the FCC’s website, I hurried down to my computer and clicked open my browser. It was then, that I was smacked in the puss by a headline that leapt from the screen as my favourite news site opened to view. “Local Rock Station Switches Formats”
Yes, dear friends… WHFS is no more. In its place, the Washington area now has “El Zol.” Don’t be alarmed, El Zol is the new name of the station, not an evil mastermind from The Tick; nor is it a masked professional wrestler. It is always a party at the station whose tag line is: Siempre de Fiesta. Apparently the band playing at that eternal party is chockfull of horns and guys with big guitars and bigger hats.
WHFS was the station I listened to when I was in intermediate and high school. It was a new wave station that let its deejays choose their own playlists. Those deejays were like family to me: the Weasel, Damien, Neci, Kathryn Lauren, Zoltar (the Brother from Another Planet), and even the new kid Tony “Aq” Aquaviva. Over time, ownership of the station changed hands and as the years went by, some of my friends went away—some to other competing stations, but sadly, some are gone forever.
Grunge ushered in the mainstreaming of “modern rock” and (the now corporate controlled) WHFS put the new hits on their scientifically researched and engineered, ten to twenty song permanent playlists. I grew tired of the schlock they were churning out and in the mid 90’s, I stopped listening to ‘HFS. I starting making my own “playlists” in the form of mix tapes and I even had my own radio show. It was at a cable access radio station and it was called The French Monkey House. Nobody listened, but I played what I wanted and said what I wanted—just like my idols did when radio was cool.
Six months ago, I started listening to WHFS again. My co-workers were gaga over the morning show and after a few listens, I was hooked. I don’t know if we will, ever again, get our “Sports Junkies” fix, but I can tell you that “drive time” mariachi ain’t cutting it. I think it is high time that I reconnect my old hard drive, dust off my MP3 player and pump out a little Radio Free Mount Vernon. Unfortunately, unless you are in my car, you won’t get to hear it… unless you have a very, very big antenna built into your sombrero.