WXPN, the public radio music station loosely affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, has become markedly better this past year or so. It’s been energized by a new facility, new performance spaces, shifts in programming, and a generally hipper, more current playlist. I’ve got to say the best radio in Philly right now is Wednesday to Friday nights when WXPN gives its airwaves over to the vestiges of Philly’s former alt-rock station, Y-100.
I have to admit that I was never really a fan of Y-100 when it was at full capacity on the FM dial. It was rock, but it was corporate rock, and it suffered from the typical annoying business and marketing tactics that’s de facto on commercial radio stations: obnoxious stings, repetitive playlists, moronic shock jock morning shows, and unimaginative music.
And then it was sold off and re-tooled as the demographic flavor of the month changed. 100.3 was turned into The Beat, and a lame alt-rock station became a lame hip-hop station. Fortunately, some of the staff, notably program director Jim McGuinn, used the turnover to stage a grassroots protest and petition drive, which generated enough hoopla to pique the interest of XPN.
Y-Rocks on XPN looks like it’s just pretty much Jim McGuinn, but the brand and creative freedom he’s now provided with allows him to play some gosh-darn cool music. And it might just be me, but this breath of fresh air seems to have wafted throughout the station. XPN has gone, in my book, from a folky, fogey, liberal baby-boomer-ish station to one that’s more risky and relevant. I like, I like.
[More: A Wikipedia article on Y100]