The Pole stunt: Better than classic Chinese hits

Indie 101.5 has spent most of 2009 at death's door. In January, music director John Wilbur, aka Whip, went public with his fight to save the low-rated but highly enjoyable station's format. Then, in May, he went on the air to ask advertisers to save his baby by purchasing spots. Clearly, not enough of them did. Last week, word came down that the Indie 101.5 approach would be migrating to the web on a new site, At this point, however, the only thing at this address is a video touting the shift, which has very little chance of commercial success, and is likely a corporate move to defuse the anger of listeners over the loss of a deserved cult favorite.

In the meantime, the 101.5 frequency has been taken over by the Pole, which spins music to strip by (lotsa Mötley Crüe and sleazy hip-hop) and features a bathroom-cam video on its website. On Friday, our Melanie Asmar wondered if the Pole is a stunt, and all signs point to "yes." A blurb on a Radio Insight page notes the similarity of this gag to one in Norfolk, Virginia, earlier this year. In that case, a station owned by Max Media (which also holds the deed to 101.5) flipped to goofy "Classic Chinese Hits" for a brief period before emerging with a contemporary-hit-radio format. Oh yeah: The consultant at that station was Alan Burns, who performs the same task for 101.5's sister station, Hot 107.1 FM.

Since Hot 107.1 specializes in CHR, don't look for 101.5 to follow the same path as the Virginia signal. Indeed, current speculation suggests that FM talk could wind up in that dial position -- and there are plenty of other options as well. In the meantime, don't get attached to the Pole. Expect Max Media to take it all off soon.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts