The Death of WHFS
May 24, 2020
With apologies for the off topic post, it is with great sadness that I report the death of WHFS. For any DC natives that are into music, this represents the last chapter of a once truly great radio station. I've been listening to the station since 1976 when it was truly "out there" where no one else would go. The death has been a slow one. Over the past 10 years or so, the staion has slowly changed from a truly modern rock station to a "top 40" radio station. Despite the de-evolution, it was still listenable. On the way into work yesterday morning, all was normal. On the commute home, I clicked on 99.1 only to be blasted with "festive spanish" music. At first, I thought it was a wierd radio thing or a joke. But when I checked the website via Blackberry, WHFS was gone.
Here's to Damien, his father and to the other revolutionaries from the early days that ran into the big corporate wall. I owe part of my youth to you and a big debt of gratitude for keeping me young as I grew older.
I was shocked that it went. I know DC101 was on the hook to go Spanish and it still might. I like DC101 but their music selection is limited. Since it's own by Clear Channel you never know they might also switch to compete against Infinity (99.1 owners)
Dude, dry your tears. WHFS is actually WRNR out of annapolis (103.1). Damien still jocks there. WHFS, the one you refer to is something owned by some big company -- it hasn't been 'HFS for a long time. All they did is converted it to Latino music. I was salsa-ing to it just a few moments ago...
I have issues getting the annapolis station. Also, while I noted that the station was a shell of its former self, it still was a cut above 101.1.
Yeah, its sad. Although I stopped listening when they dumped Lou Brutus in the late 90s. The programming by that time was hardly alternative or progressive.
'RNR!! You said it KevR. Unfortunately I can't pick it up anywhere near DC.
Yep, I've listened to HFS on and off since late 60s, and until yesterday would rotate my car radio between it, 94.7,101 and a variety of others. Got to admit most of my time on 99.1 lately was only to catch the sports junkies the morning after a big sports day. Think they had a discussion yesterday morning on some social issues, but no talk of the switch unless I missed it. The afternoon switch to Spanish totally shocked me. Thought it was a temporary glitch, but this morning's Post has a front page story on the deal. Listenership way down, more revenue possible via Spanish sound, which I don't mind, just not my preference and can't handle round the clock. Post story said the junkies may wind up on WJFK.
By the way, I got to meet Cerphe about a year ago at a promotional thing. Cool guy. Didn't he used to work at HFS in '70s?
R & R is awesome, but I too cannot reach it unless I am traveling north on 95. HFS died long ago. What we really need is the return of WGTB. Some public sation that doesn't feel the need to only play classical music or NPR feeds. We have no college radio stations! When WGTB was on the air they pushed the envelope forcing HFS to remain progressive. But with no competition HFS just kept following the buck$.
Unfortunately WR&R is not available on the web. But for those of you that enjoy it's style, I suggest giving Onion River Radio out of Vermont a try. It is what HFS used to be back in the day.
JimK Cerph used to be on WMAL fm whis is now Mix 107.3 back in the heyday of progressive music in DC. You GTB (way out theree) HFS @102.3 (somewhat out there) And WMAL FM which was still alittle less mainstream than DC101 and the 99.1 version.
I think both Cerph and Weasel are still on WARW 107.
(my kids looked at me like I was crazy when I heard that unmistakable woice and proclaimed "It's Weasel")
Honestly HFS was a great station but I've been on satellite radio for about 8 months and I love it. Especially for long drives to WV and during the daily commute. I never enjoyed the watered down FCC compliant music and the 20 minutes of commercials every hour so this isn't suprising. Plus with all the new latino gangs in the dc area I guess the felt they needed to capture that market.
It's very sad news for me since I grew up on HFS (while in high school) and continued to listen thereafter. I think that HFS started to go downhill (more commercial) shortly after the station was moved from their Cordell Ave. location in Bethesda, MD (or something like that, I'm not quite sure of the old address). I also listened to GTB and WAMU "rock and roll juke box" (on air in the afternoons). It now seems that the only progressive, non-commercial rock station left in the DC/Baltimore area is WRNR 103.1 in Annapolis (similar to WYEP 91.3 in Pittsburgh)........RIP HFS~
I was also saddened by the news, because I listened to WHFS throughout high school in the early 90's, and it introduced me to alternative rock.
But, I'm afraid I haven't listened to HFS in the past several years. I bought XM Radio when it came out in late 2001, and that's pretty much all I listen to now. (Well, when I'm not listening to iTunes or an iPod.) Since XM added local traffic and weather, I don't even switch over to WTOP. I think satellite radio is well on its way to pushing out broadcast radio. But, sadly, most broadcast radio isn't "local" anyway -- with some exceptions, most stations are owned by one or two big conglomerates and programmed from a central location. You get the same playlists across the country. Satellite radio definitely has a lot more variety, and getting CNN and other news stations is a big plus.
"I also listened to GTB and WAMU "rock and roll juke box" (on air in the afternoons)."
You go back a ways. I have it on tape from 1973 and 1974. Did you see the article in the Washington City Paper about four years ago about WGTB?
Whatever happened to Old Howard?
"I think that HFS started to go downhill (more commercial) shortly after the station was moved from their Cordell Ave. location in Bethesda, MD (or something like that, I'm not quite sure of the old address)."
4853 Cordell Avenue, in Bethesda.
WHFS 102.3 Tribute
Yeah twin58, I definately go back a ways. And, feel lucky to have grown-up in the DC area during the 60s and 70s. There wasn't nearly as much congestion and traffic and DC was a happening place for progressive music. I was always listening to HFS, GTB or AMU while working as a lifeguard, lifting weights in my garage or driving over to OC, MD. My Summers in DC were simple and fun in those days, I was usually thinking about the up-coming ski/ski-racing season or women and little else (actually, that's about all I think about these days).
I didn't see the article on GTB in the City Paper as I'm no longer in the DC area on a full time basis (although I was born in DC and still consider DC to be my home). Wasn't GTB shut down due to charges of fowl language (which would probably be mild by todays standards)? Anyway twin58, thanks for the information.
Radio is pretty much dead as a whole if you ask me. Seems that most radio stations are owned by a few big corporations and their play lists, djs and everything are all canned -- independent radio is either dead or dying. RNR was indepedent for awhile and originally had no play list or anything, just the different jocks came in a played what they liked. I do think this has changed but its still the nearest thing to independent the area has that I can tell -- at least for 'rock' (whatever that is...) I recall HFS and DC-101 sortof slowing merging into the same sound and somewhere in there I stopped listening... RNR reception is spotty, for awhile you could listen on the internet but i think they had to stop. I don't know where it will end, maybe when people wake up and decide they want their own lives back & just stop listening.
Try out the Towson University station WTMD, 89.7 on the FM dial. And no commercials. They play an eclectic mix of rock, folk, blues and jazz. Like the old WHFS before it went into the weird head banger stuff.
The DJs on 94.7 spent most of yesterday playing tribute music and reminiscing about the old WHFS. At one point around 7pm both Cerphe and Weasel were talking together about the old days when both (I believe) worked for HFS. Those two are walking Rock N Roll encyclopedias.
Showing my age talking about 94.7, which can exhibit a grossly repetitive playlist, but in recent years they've done some nice specials like all live cuts this weekend, or other weekends with all covers of classic rock songs, and the 20yrs in 20days thing when they play songs from a single year all day long. Its a shame to keep guys like Cerphe and Weasel chained to a corporate playlist, when they can talk extemporaneously at length on Rock history and music minutia for just about any cut or group you can throw at them.
Hey give el Zol a try. I figured "f it" and tuned in just to see what was what and I gotta admit that while I couldn't understand a word of what the DJ's were saying I did dig the tunes.
Does anyone remember 100.7 WGRX "Quality Rock" in the mid-late 80s (out of B'more)? It played a real eclectic blend of rock like Joan Armatrading to Steely Dan and they were always playing great new music. That format didn't last long though.
Honestly HFS was a great station but I've been on satellite radio for about 8 months and I love it.
Brief Hijack- Scott's on XM, Doug's on ?? Anyone on sirius? I can see the future's here and it's satellite. Sirius is 3 bucks a month more than XM. Worth it?
We have been on Sirius for 2.5 years and totally love it .. we are also having it installed in our new car and are thinking of doing a home version too.
Even though Sirius is 3 bucks a month more it's worth it in my view. And you can ameliorate some of that difference by paying for a yearly subscription, which gives you 1 month free ... 2 years is 3 months free. Also you can add on to your original subscription. Each subsequent subscription costs $6.99 per month. So if you have more than one receiver its quite reasonable.
The only terrestrial radio I listen to any more is WTOP for traffic (that is changing since satellite is now broadcasting traffic and weather for DC metro area), the rest of the stations are so formulaic and boring it's a waste of airwaves. I love jazz but the only local jazz station is controlled by Clear Channel and seems to be on autopilot .. repeating every couple of hours or so. Satellite is a no brainer as far as I'm concerned. Thing is amazing .. even gets coverage deep in the valleys and dells of West Virginia!
Piece of advice: we found that how we place our skiis on the rack has an effect on the reception of the satellite antenna. Slide the skis forward as far as possible so that the antenna thingie has as much of a 360 degree view of the sky as possible.
I had Sirius in a rental car in Colorado last month and it convinced me to get Sat. radio. I'm getting XM though for Tony Kornheiser & Bob Edwards
Snowcone- too late but for Jazz 89.3 WPFW is a good station. It has some talk though.
hey it's a great espanol lesson in the AM, blowing the dust off my now ancient spanish classes! Vaya El ZoL!
I'm going to miss the HFStival.
With great sadness i report the slow death of the good ole USA that we have enjoyed our whole life.Not 1 protest from the lot of you of the invasion from the south that will change this country forever.Immigrants to this country that was built by the blood sweat & tears of our forefathers are supposed to assimilate & become Americans...speaking english & keeping this country UNITED.My grandparents came from norway & would not walk out of the house untill they learned english out of respect for thier new country.I am building my house in West va as i write this & out of protest i will name my place the Alamo!!!...It just might be the last stand
I also have sirius. Its great. Comming home from VT, I was able to listen to the last Skin's game through three states. Raw Dog Comedy keeps me laughing in the AM during the commute.
"I am building my house in West va...."
There wouldn't be any Spanish spoken on that jobsite, would there?
Andy you haven't been going to costume parties with prince Harry have you?
Being in Fredericksburg, I often listened to many stations out of Richmond, as well as the ones out of D.C. I used to love to listen to 102.1 out of Richmond. In fact, I was actually good friends with one of the D.J.s, Lucas Fox. Even went on a white-water rafting trip with him, as well as spent a day skiing at Massanutten with him. He got laid off when 102.1 changed thier format from a classic/modern hard-rock to a purely modern "alternative" station. last I heard he moved to Indiana and I lost touch with him since. That station took a steady downhill decline after Clear Channel bought them out. I then started listening to 99.3 right here in Fredericksburg, but grew tired of thier very limited selection of music. I also got so fed-up with the seeemingly endless commercials.
I broke down and got XM Radio, and I have not looked back since. I really don't even listen to any of the local FM stations anymore. If I want to find out what some of the local events and such going on, I can look them up on the internet on the Fredericksburg.com website.
Andy is right. We should be protesting that all of our neighbors from the south are moving in and taking over without learning the language. But let's help them. Let's start some classes for them to learn the language. Should we start the classes with Cherokee or Sioux? Andy, which one can you teach?
On the note that HFS is just part of a big corporation to make money: the Sports Junkies raised money for the Tsunami by auctioning off items. Among those items were movie passes to every HFS premiere this year, backstage passes to the HFSestival, and concert tickets to every HFS event this year. Is there some false advertising going on?
BTW, for any Junkies fans, they are moving back to WJFK next Tuesday and will be on midday.
Roy your point is the only neg feedback i can accept.I have always felt sorry for the Native Americans & have been Impressed with thier will to Fight for thier land.If they were united as a country maybe this would still be thier land today.The other comments are just thoughtless cheapshots.As far as the racial overtone, I would be even more alarmed if 3 million russians were coming into this country a year & starting up radio stations & so forth.This is a ski site & this is the wrong place to be dicussing this subject so i will not post any more replys.I will just have to hope that there are a few more patriotic Americans out there than the Politically correct goody 2 shoes that will lay down & give this country up without a fight!...PS..For 5 years out of highschool i did the "jobs nobody wanted to do" & i'm a hell of a lot stronger for it.We should make our kids have a choice between a manual job or a stint in the army for a few years after highschool while they mature enough for college...God bless America & the true americans..all the rest of you can go join the united nations!
We should make our kids have a choice between a manual job or a stint in the army for a few years after highschool while they mature enough for college
On this I agree. People should try to stop giving their kids a better life (money) and start giving them a better experience.
Bump for an interesting thread from January 2005 on local radio :-o
FYI, Weasel now co-hosts a show on Sunday mornings from 9-12 on Takoma Park’s community radio station WOWD, 94.3. If you live within about 5 miles of the station you can get it over the air. It also streams on takomaradio.org. The previous 2 shows of any show are also archived on the site and can be accessed anytime.
I lived in Silver Spring in the early/mid-1970s. HFS was the radio station. FM radio was so different from AM top 40 where DJs blab over a song on in their phony hyped up DJ voice. FM DJs came off as slow stoners but were respectful of the music. I can't remember who HFS had as commercial sponsors but in the years before I moved from Pittsburgh I listened to a radio station that transformed from a mostly talk format to a progressive and underground rock station. KQV FM became WDVE. You could hear whole songs even if they ran for more than 3 or 4 minutes, the Beatles Hey Jude, Iron Butterfly In A Gadda Da Vida. All the latest groups from the west coast; Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Grateful Dead. From the east coast there was Lou Reed and Bob Dylan. Then there were the Brits lead by the Beatles and Stones, the Who, Led Zep and Pink Floyd. None of them were as yet "commercially" successful except the Beatles in their earlier pop single days and the Stones. The station was sponsored by local head shops and clothing boutiques. At midnight entire albums were played without interruption so if you had a tape deck you could record the songs for free. The broad range of music was fascinating. From Switch on Bach to Led Zeppelin to Simon and Garfunkel to Janis Joplin and Sly and the Family Stone to Joni Mitchell. I love the diversity. You can only get that now when you create your own play list on Spotify. DVE is all corporate rock now very mainstream, hardly revolutionary. HFS is long gone. When I'm not listening to my own mix on Spotify I stream http://wyep.org/ independent public radio "Where the Music Matters." There is just enough boomer bait to keep us geezers comfortable and loads of new stuff that you will not hear on commercial corporate stations and an eclectic mix of music in the spirit of the rock radio pioneers. You'll hear WYEP at Chip Chase's White Grass' lodge often.
Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:
I stream http://wyep.org/ independent public radio "Where the Music Matters."
As soon as I pass under the Laurel Highlands Trail bridge on the turnpike from the east I'm trying to tune in WYEP. I can pick it up around the ski areas somewhat
Spending time in Utah this winter 2020 I have discovered a radio station that is so refreshing! KRCL. Salt Lake City, UT. 90.9 KRCL is a listener-supported community radio station in Salt Lake City, Utah. KRCL is a non-profit organization that airs music and public affairs programming. Music programs are hosted by DJs who choose their own playlist. Many programs feature folk, blues, indie rock, and world music.
"Music programs are hosted by DJs who choose their own playlist. " This seems so simple, but is rare/unheard of now in the Wash DC area for rock music. KRCL plays a lot of new alternative music from artists I don't know, but tend to enjoy. But they also throw in frequent oldies and timely stuff. After hearing new music the next song might be Grateful Dead's Hear Comes Sunshine, or when Bill Wither passed away you'd hear a song or two of his in the following days. Why can't Wash DC still have a rock station with real DJs who choose their own playlist? I guess I should quit whining and switch to satellite, but I'm too stubborn:-) Actually, I listen to a lot of music on my cell phone from youtube. But it's still nice to be exposed to new and/or thoughtful radio music playlists and the insight of knowledgeable DJs. End of rant.
...... I guess I should quit whining and switch to satellite, but I'm too stubborn:-)
I don't know JimK, I've had Serius for 10+ years and found that Sirius became almost as programmed as commerical, and the eclectic channels I liked all have been getting rid of live DJs and moving to programmed. So I recenty went back to live radio via Alexa devices, which allow me to listen to independent stations like KRCL - which I just turned on. Been listening to stations out of Pittsburgh, Philly, and Jackson Hole mostly
Jim, next time you're spending time on your computer writing one of your excellent articles open another tab and go to wyep.org and select the "listen live" tab. You can stream their live broadcast. 'YEP sounds a lot like KRCL, listener supported, lots of DJ programmed shows and public affairs programming too and as I said above, enough boomer bait to keep us geezers in our comfort zone. I would not be at all surprised that at KRCL's web site you'll be able to stream their broadcast too. If you subscribe to Spotify WYEP provides a weekly mix that I listen to at home because the hilly terrain around here blocks their signal despite their 50000 watts.