For fans of good adult alternative rock in the Atlanta market, September 29th was a very sad day. Somewhat ironically for 9/29, 92.9 DaveFM ceased live broadcasts. For the next few weeks, it will be on autopilot as CBS gets ready to transition it to all-sports-talk radio.
Sad day, indeed. DaveFM was a breath of fresh air when it debuted 8 years ago in Atlanta — I felt like there was finally a radio station that got “me” and played music I could relate to. Even though I’ve since left Atlanta, whenever I drove through town, I switched off my SiriusXM radio to catch an hour of Dave as I passed through town.
The one saving grace — if you can say that — is that fans got to say a real farewell. The switch to sports talk was announced months ago, so DJs could sign off properly, and listeners got to pick the 92 songs that would wind down the station’s life. While “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons was the top of the list, the station signed off, fittingly, with Butch Walker’s “Atlanta.” While DaveFM’s go-to playlist was probably too heavy on U2, R.E.M., and Dave Matthews Band (who the station repeatedly claimed is not who they were named after) it was a great place for new music. It was the only place listeners would get exposed to music by Mumford & Sons, Death Cab for Cutie, Cake, Black Keys and other new bands.
While fans cried out, screaming that it was unfair to pull such a popular station, a look at DaveFM's ratings tells a vastly different story — and the numbers don’t lie. In the last year, the station dropped from a sustainable 4% share in the Arbitron ratings down to a pathetic average of 1.5, at times hitting a low of 1.3. What could possibly have driven away an audience when the format or DJs didn’t change very much over the years?
Most likely, the Internet killed the radio station. Demographics show that the stations skewed towards the tech-savvy listener — the same listeners who are, nowadays, tuned into SiriusXM, Pandora, and Slacker. Shortly after the station posted their top 92 songs, a listener had created and shared the list on MOG. Personally, I panicked too, until I found not one, but two stations on Slacker that had similar playlists, and I could easily enter in the bands on that top 92 list as well and get my own personal station, weeding out the bands I didn’t care for. That will work for home, and as more and more cars get smartphone integration, it will be simple to listen on the go. In the car, it’s just as easy as tuning to The Spectrum, or Alt Nation — which at the moment I checked to see if that was one word or two, was playing “Little Lion Man,” the most requested song from DaveFM’s Top 92 list.
Who’s listening to traditional radio anymore? Is it just reserved for local news and sports? Let us know — when was the last time you tuned in and turned the dial to see what’s out there? And if you have a minute, take a peek at DaveFM's Top 92 requested songs while the website’s still alive, and let us know what you think? Should DaveFM have died?
Leslie Shapiro has been an audio engineer for 25 years, with experience in television, film, and the music industry. She is also a member of NARAS, which gives her the coveted privilege of voting for the Grammy Awards.
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