Where have all my classic rock stations gone?
First back in November it was the pop and classic rock station 104.3 K-Hits which underwent a format change and became the new 104.3 JAMS. That wasn’t so horrible and I’ve even embraced Chicago’s new number one station for throwbacks.
But this week everyone was thrown for a loop, literally. The term means to shock, surprise, astonish, or bewilder one. And that is exactly what happened when the unexpected news broke that The Loop 97.9 would be no more. It was sold to Educational Media Foundation who has plans to convert that station to Christian programming as it runs the syndicated K-Love brand.
What the hell? Yes, pun very much intended. Another classic rock station, gone. Poof into the cold March winds of change. Besides, don’t we already have a K-Love in this market?
The Loop was the first station I came across on the radio when I landed here over three years ago. It was sort of coincidental because one of my car’s programmed stations happened to be 97.9 FM. But I liked it. Soon I found its friends, The Drive 97.1 and the above-mentioned K-Hits. But a quick Google search uses terms like “iconic” and “legendary” to describe the channel that was a 40+ year staple. It was the kind of news that makes other DJs cry on air.
In listening to recollections and remembrances today, The Loop was the not-so-silent partner alongside for the major milestones and moments for that generation of Chicagoans who were taking bottles while their babysitters fainted at Beatles concerts, the ones who were old enough to roll their packs of Marlboros into their t-shirts but too old to flaunt Madonna bows and bustiers. It was the station those high schoolers skipped school to, the station in the background for the first time in the backseat or when they broke up with their boyfriends or girlfriends not via text but up in the front seat. The station they listened to on way to graduation, or in the morning on the way to their first jobs. The ones who burned their disco records and shelled out precious cash to rock out at the concerts The Loop sponsored. As one of the commenters lamented on The Loop’s fan page, “You rocked my life!”
Today is the day to say goodbye, your last chance to savor all that The Loop was since the new format is due to take over tomorrow. In addition to the sadness that goes along with experienced talent losing jobs and listeners left longing for nostalgia, I suppose it will make it much harder to call in to that A to Z contest The Drive is still running. But more importantly, today is the day to pay tribute to that time when, to borrow the title from an often played Rush song on The Loop, the spirit of radio prevailed.
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