Radio Daze

Local alt-rock station gets close to the EDGE of extinction, but finds a new home on the dial

A bigger long-term question might be: How viable is the alt-rock format in the current pop climate? A decade ago, the format represented the one place on the commercial end of the dial where you could turn to hear Sonic Youth, the Pixies or the Beastie Boys. Now, with MTV devoting so much of its scant video time to teen pop and contemporary R&B, any rock that slips in (Linkin Park, System of a Down, Staind) is looked upon by the industry as an alternative, even if its values represent worn-out rock clichés.

For that reason, the EDGE, like all stations that fall within its strictly-defined format, can be a frustrating listening experience. But in a market where the only college radio presence is almost impossible to pick up unless you're on campus, it's still the most powerful source of new rock on the airwaves. And because it has had very little on-air turnover during its nearly nine years on the air, the station's DJs have established an identifiable bond with their listeners.

"The most amazing thing I noticed when we announced we were going off the air was listeners calling saying, 'I grew up with you guys. I've been listening to you since I was 15 and now I'm 23,'" says Nash, who went directly from volunteer work at ASU's radio station to the EDGE eight years ago. "We've become their home ground; they feel comfortable when they turn on the EDGE.

"It's almost like we provide a theme for them, a getaway from whatever they're doing in their everyday life. 'Cause music really does heal, and it makes you feel good. It's medicine for the soul, and the EDGE has become that for thousands of people."

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