Music News

SkaPunk Radio: Former X103.9 Program Now Online

Last week, Valley alternative station X103.9 became My103.9, shifting its focus from alternative and punk to a "Gen X" format, with a playlist heavy on '80s hits and an open call for listeners to request songs.

Dave Pratt Live, the divisive morning show that launched in August of 2011 was the sole carry-over in the shift, leaving many wondering what would become of the SkaPunk Show. The long-running program was a standard on the The Edge and, later, X103.9. Popular DJ Craven Moorehead took over the program from KUKQ veteran Larry Mac (who went onto 97.9 KUPD -- read our interview with KUPD's John Holmberg) in 1997, and this week launched SkaPunk Radio Dot Com, an effort to keep the show going despite the format change.

"I got into radio because I loved sharing music and doing production work," says Moorehead. "I have never been one of those personalities that gets off on hearing my voice on the radio and talking about myself. Plus, over the years I have accumulated a ton of gear to record bands and do radio production. So the day I got canned, I just kinda looked around my studio and said, 'Eff it. I have everything I need right here!'"

The show launched at 9 p.m. Sunday, January 15, in keeping with the show's former schedule. We caught up with Moorehead to ask him about the new show and the future of alternative rock radio on the FM dial.

Up on the Sun: What does the future hold for SkaPunk?

Craven Moorehead: To be honest, I am not sure. I just know that I want to keep doing it so I am keeping it alive online right now.

My whole family has worked for the Edge at some time or another over the past 15 years. My wife was the promotions director, my cousin does engineering and IT work, and I have been on air and doing production. There's my new staff right there.

The fans online have been fantastic as well, with a lot of them offering to do free work to keep the show going. All the bases are covered minus a big stick in the sky but hopefully the internet can take care of that. So right now I am really just working and learning about internet radio and hope to be streaming live 24/7 online.

You've invested a lot of your life in the show. How long have you been at it?

I started doing SkaPunk around 1997, when I first started working for The Edge. Larry Mac had done it for a couple years before that and then handed the torch to me. Back then I didn't even want to be on the air. I was totally content with sitting in my studio staring at Pro Tools making radio production pieces and commercials. But I always said "If Larry ever leaves I want that show!" Then Larry left for KUPD and told our program director Shellie Hart to let me give it a shot.

How will the show change now that it's no longer over the FM dial?

There will be more local music and some songs I could not have gotten away with on an FM transmitter. I don't see things changing too much other than that at this point, but some deeper tracks and more local music will without a doubt be happening.

Any plans to head to another Valley FM station with the show?

No concrete plans to get on an FM station right now. There is just no one out there doing anything that could house SkaPunk and have it make sense. I would love to have a show on FM again but until people are sick of listening to Auto-Tuned disco music or geriatric hits from decades past I am afraid I need a few generations to keel before FM radio will be good again.

Given the format shift at X103.9, are you optimistic about the future of alternative radio?

I am not sure about the future of alternative on the FM. It certainly has taken its licks over the last few years. It's a tough format to program because there are so many different genres under the alternative umbrella. You can't simply plug in the top testing songs around the country like you can on other hit driven radio stations. And you can't get away with just playing old time tested classics from it's hey day in the '90s because I believe alternative listeners of all ages do not want to be treated like classic rockers.

I believe alternative listeners of all ages are people who constantly crave new music. That is what made them listeners of alternative music in the first place. They wanted to find something new that was different from the norm. But with the way ratings are tabulated new music is a no-no. If you're not playing a tested hit song past or present your station is losing ratings, your station is losing money and then you walk into work like I did and you lose your job! I do believe it can work, but it would take some insanely good programming that was equal part guts and research. Not just playing the numbers game.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.