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The Last Progressive AM Radio Station


The AM radio dial became dominated by right wing talk and religious programming, thanks to presidents Reagan through Bush and then Clinton through Bush II. Each of those administrations over a few decades reshaped the rules that controlled broadcasting toward national owners, sponsors and content. Since conservative types were behind turning media into a big cartel of six large conglomerates, it's no surprise that most of the content on talk radio leans hard right.

But in May 2018 an imaginary station got industry attention by breaking instead of learning the rules. KFLOP 1000 AM, which had suffered from low ratings after experimenting with a right wing comedy format that went nowhere for years, suddenly changed format under the direction of program director Alvin Alien. He was able to talk the owner into firing the station consultant, who was charging $200k to provide comedy material and programming guidance, but it was more like money down the drain.

Alvin had no prior radio experience. He got the job by wandering into the station one day to speak with the manager. He ended up having a long conversation with owner Ted Prilligon, who said he needed new ideas since the station was losing money. Alvin agreed to a one-year deal of $35k, to lead the station toward better ratings and revenue success with an alternative format that mixed classic and modern rock with underground music, including local talent.



As a music fan who grew up in town, Alvin had a deep sense of the local culture. He initially came up with the name "Cult 1000," but after reading multiple stories in mainstream media about Hollyweird sex cults, he switched it to "Trip 1000." If Prilligon questioned the name, Alvin could always justify it by adding the slogan "The Vacation Station." Alvin's vision of the station was a large music library that appealed to rock fans of all ages. The "trip" was the adventure exploring a wide world of music ignored by the rest of the corporate radio dial. Trip 1000, being independently-owned, didn't have to follow the rules or the rigid structure set up by the big biz radio industry.

The station kicked off with a song that made fun of big business called "Big Business" by Carmaig DeForest. Alvin deliberately sought music by artists who were overshadowed but had something creative or mind-opening to say in their music. Underground groups like the Shadow Government Occult Band and Vince Futura and the Automators now had a flagship station where they could be heard by freeform radio fans. As word began to spread that the art community had a station reflecting their ambitions and lifestyles, the Trip 1000 van began to appear around town, further building the brand as the most progressive force in town.

In terms of personality, the first thing Alvin did to readjust the schedule was fire afternoon host Shawn Vannity and started doing the show himself. Instead of talking about banning immigration and outlawing gun control, Alvin talked about solar energy and electric cars, mixed with progressive music. He wants to shine the spotlight on small businesses, as well as local bands, such as Trip Van Ripple, whose "Mood Elevator" became a major hit on the station.





Created by Alex Cosper