What’s up with x104?

Since moving to Seattle from Detroit 7 years ago, one of the things I have missed most is quality local radio. Being used to talents like Bushman, Electrifying Mojo, and “The Reverend Doctor Deacon Doug”, Seattle radio was a joke. The whole Northwest has never had a real hip-hop station.

But about a year ago, x104 appeared on the airwaves. They play really good music; including lots of stuff that’s not for sale. For quality of lineup, the other stations in Seattle are not even in the same category. It’s right up there with Hot 97 or the Detroit stations, IMO. But I keep expecting them to go out of business or off the air any day now.

For starters,they’re broadcasting from Mercer Island. The signal dies out by Kent to the south and Everett to the north, and doesn’t go much past Kirkland to the east. In other words, if you are trying to build a hip-hop station built on ads, that is exactly the wrong market.

This might explain why they have no ads. None. I have heard a public service announcement before, but that’s about it. Are you even “in business” if you don’t sell any ads? Is this channel going to disappear as soon as its benefactor gets bored or runs out of money? It is still the first and only real hip-hop station in the Northwest, but I can’t help feeling they won’t have staying power. Enjoy it while you can.

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I’ve e-mailed with both station manager and music director at x104. They are funded through people who underwrite them and private donations. They explained that they have a deal where they pay a flat fee rather than per-song royalties, which is apparently very affordable. No mention of Mercer Island High, although the call letters KMIH suggest some affiliation.

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That makes three good options for local FM with no commercials. 104.5 for hip-hop; 90.3/91.7 for eclectic, including a good hip-hop show; and 89.5 for dance.

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