An end to an era, a loss for local musicians as 89X changes format
The change in format is a loss for local rock and Canadian music
It ended the way it started, 'Stop!' by Jane's Addiction. After 30 years of Windsor's 'New Rock Alternative' 89X has gone country.
Regular listeners remember the top nine at nine, people's choice, and of course 'Canadian Exports.' The station has been a lighthouse for many local rock musicians hoping to get some attention for their music.
"I think for a lot of people, that was where you set your sights. It was something that's like, 'OK, this is what I'm going to aim for, because this starts the story.' If you want to become a national act, you have to build steam somehow," said Josh Braiden, the lead singer of One Man's Opinion.
It was a goal for many local artists to get their music on 89X. One that took time for Braiden's band. They submitted their first EP and were told by DJ Phat Matt to kick out Braiden, which he remembered with a laugh.
"I'm thankful that guys didn't kick me out, but instead, you know, just focused on trying to sing better and not sound so completely garbled," he said.
But more success the second time around with another DJ, who like what he heard and put their first single 'Crawl Into Bed With Me' on 89X.
"It was crazy for us. It went into power rotation, which means it was getting spins very regularly, almost every hour or two hours," Braiden said.
The band ended up on MySpace's top 10 unsigned Canadian artists, which got them attention from Universal in New York.
"It's like this huge giant leap to get on 89X and then everything else is just sort of piecing together," said Braiden.
From there, Braiden was able to accomplish another goal, playing St. Andrew's hall in Detroit, opening for Finger Eleven. It was a big deal for a lot of local musicians.
WATCH: Lead singer, Josh Braiden talks about the experience of opening for Finer Eleven and the unexpected end to the night
"It's super important for a scene like that where the focus is local and just seeing it, Facebook yesterday was like, 'Wow,' looking at all these artists like Inoke Errati, Intra Meridian, all these people that huddled around the Chubby Pickle in the venues back in the day and how important that was to us," he said.
Braiden was also grateful for the support that the radio personalities gave local bands, many of them coming out to watch them play live.
One of those personalities was Cal Cagno, who spent 18 years with the show and went from working in promotions to hosting the morning show.
"It was a great place to work, it was like being part of something like a revolution," he said.
Cagno grew up in the Detroit area and 89X played a big part for him in high school.
"I thought if I was cool enough to work at 89X, then definitely there was big things in my future," said Cagno, who was laid off in 2017.
While he was there he was able to interview big name artists, like Eminem, and drive Blink 182 to their venue in his car. But it was his hand in being part of something bigger that means the most to him.
"The fact that we were able to break so many bands like, One Man's Opinion and to do so much in the community," Cagno said. "That's the stuff I will remember for the longest time."
89X has two Canadian centric shows, 'The Homeboy show' and 'Canadian Exports' where both local and country-wide rock musicians were able to be heard in the U.S.
"Bands like Sloan, bands like the Tragically Hip, the Tea Party, bands like those Our Lady Peace, didn't really have a place to be heard by American audiences much and because it was a border station it was able to broadcast 100,000 watts of music to people who maybe would never have heard those bands," Cagno said.
WATCH: Cal Cagno signing off
During his 18 years he also did the five o'clock request hour, which had a huge following.
"We only had an hour to do a music and we would get 150 to 200 calls a day for people who just wanted to hear their song on the radio," he said.
But with the station now switched on country, there were job losses. Bell Media would not confirm how many jobs were cut, but Emily Young Lee with the corporation said six positions are open.
It wasn't the only station to have a format change, 93.9 FM The River is now Virgin Radio 93.9, where they play hot adult contemporary.
Although 89X is no more, it will always be remembered as 'Windsor Detroit's Only New Rock Alternative.'
LISTEN: Afternoon Drive talks with Cal Cagno