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|Since the advent of Punk in the late ‘seventies, a prevailing spirit of “Do It Yourself” independence
has driven Modern Rock. That very attitude of musical autonomy was what birthed Columbus’ only
independently-owned radio station, WWCD 102.5, in 1990. For over 25 years, CD 102.5 has thrived
upon being the primary station in town willing to break promising “Alternative” and “Modern Rock”
artists. Now, this local institution has taken an unprecedented step to maintain their independence.
On July 6, they initiated their first-ever crowdfunding campaign, “Keep Radio Independent,” via
Indiegogo. Why would a commercial radio station turn to the general public for funding? A recent
conversation with station owner Randy Malloy revealed much about the importance of why,
in Columbus, Independent Radio Must Survive.
Randy Malloy, with his long hair and predominantly black clothing, looks the part of an elder
statesman of Generation X. Starting his radio career as in intern in 1991, Malloy was initially trained
by the late and great air personality Andyman Davis. Through hard work and a passion for bringing
music to the people, he moved into management. In 2010, to prevent a belligerent buyout from an
outside party, he cashed in his personal investments and bought a majority share of the station
from long-time owner Roger Vaughan.
With a personal stake in the survival of CD 102.5, Randy Malloy summarized the need for this
crowdfunding campaign. In his breathy East Coast accent, Malloy leaned back in his office chair
and explained, “We are raising this money to buy our broadcast license.”
Explaining the significance of this campaign, “A broadcast license is the difference between Pirate
Radio and the FCC knocking on your door 30 seconds after you start broadcasting and saying,
‘Hey, everyone’s going to jail,’ and the FCC going ‘You’re good to go.’ A broadcast license allows
us to use the frequency that is owned by the Federal Government, the FCC.”
In their 25 years on the air, WWCD has never actually owned their broadcast license: they have
leased it from third parties.The current license for the 102.5 FM frequency is owned by
Southeastern Ohio Broadcast Systems. Although CD 102.5 has an amicable working relationship
with this party, there is always the risk that the owner could accept a lucrative offer to lease to
another entity, effectively ending CD 102.5 as we know it today.
The goal of this Indiegogo campaign is to raise $5,000,000.00 in 60 days. This will allow CD 102.5 to
buy the license from Southeastern Ohio Broadcast Systems and own it outright. If the goal falls
short and raises, say $2 or $3 million, Malloy will have enough capital to negotiate a bank loan for
If the Indiegogo campaign does not succeed, WWCD will still need to re-negotiate their lease with
Southeastern Ohio Broadcast Systems. While this would not necessarily be the end of the station
as we know it, it would compromise CD 102.5’s total autonomy as an independently-owned radio
To dispel any misunderstanding of the situation, this fund drive is not about renewing the station’s
broadcast license. The existence of the 102.5 FM frequency is not in danger. The Federal
Communications System automatically renews these licenses every 10 years. The fund drive is
about the outright ownership of WWCD’s right to use this frequency in the Central Ohio Market.
Why is it important for CD 102.5 to own their broadcast license outright? Like many listeners who
remember when WWCD first signed on, Randy vividly recalled what Columbus was like beforehand,
without an independent Modern Rock station.
Framing his perspective, “I came from New York, so I grew up listening to WNEW and WAPP. I saw
The Ramones play at Rutgers University in 1981. I went to CBGB’s.To get that type of music, it
didn’t exist here.”
This is not an exaggeration. At the start of 1990, there were no commercial stations in Columbus
playing any type of Post-Punk music. The NPR affiliate, WCBE, still broadcast Classical. The Ohio
State University’s college station, WOSR, was closed circuit and could only be heard in dorms.
The city’s biggest Rock station, WLVQ, very stubbornly stuck with a “classic rock” format, playing
only mainstream Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. The rest of the radio dial was a mix of Top 40, Oldies,
Country, and Urban Contemporary.
Malloy confirmed, “I do remember what Columbus was like without the radio station. It did not have
a music scene, it really didn’t. There were bands, obviously, but they were hidden; there was no
one promoting them. There was no public music scene; it was underground. It was garage bands.
There wasn’t a giant music scene because no one was promoting it. No one knew where to go.
There were no publications touting all of these music venues. There was no large sort of outcry of
Columbus as a music city. No push from the musicians as they had no voice; they had nowhere to
go to seek that refuge of saying, ‘Hey, help me! Promote me! Let the world hear me!’”
When WWCD went on the air August 21, 1990 (originally on the 101.1 frequency) as the very first
commercial station in Ohio dedicated to Post-Punk Alternative rock, it raised local awareness of
such Alternative Rock icons as The Clash, The Ramones, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and Nirvana.
Subsequently, Central Ohio artists like Watershed, Willie Phoenix, The New Bomb Turks, and
Ronald Koal seized their corner of the airwaves and began packing clubs. Some area media
figures, such as fanzine publishers Sam Ettaro and Tony Barnett, started calling Columbus
“The Next Seattle.”
Sadly for Columbus music fans, this national prominence was not to be. Even so, Central Ohio did
enjoy a minor explosion of original rock bands throughout the ‘nineties. Self-effacing, Randy
Malloy finds it difficult to take credit, “We didn’t make the music scene. We helped promote it.
We were merely the gasoline poured on the fire.”
Even if CD 102.5 did not make the Columbus music scene but merely reported it, the station has
played a key role in Central Ohio music history. It was one of the first commercial stations in the
nation dedicated to Alternative Rock and continues to be. While some Columbus residents have
come to take this format for granted, it does not exist at all in some major cities like Dallas,
Orlando, or Detroit, where corporate-owned radio dominates.
It is unlikely that any serious promotion of local music could have happened without an
independently-owned station attuned to what is happening close to home. It is also unlikely that
any corporately-owned station would have taken a chance to expose promising underground
Modern Rock artists, as WWCD does to this day. For these reasons, it is vital that CD 102.5
succeeds with this Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, now through Sept. 3 at noon.
Independent radio must survive!
To find out more about CD 102.5’s Indiegogo campaign, please go to www.cd1025.com/invest
Connect with CD102.5FM: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Independent Radio Must Survive: Why WWCD
102.5 FM has initiated a crowdfunding campaign
An interview with Randy Malloy, owner/president of locally and
independently owned alternative rock radio station CD102.5
Park Street Saloon in Columbus will host the $5
#InvestInCD1025 Fest Aug. 8 featuring 31 local bands
and artists to benefit the independent radio station's
campaign. More Details. Pictured is owner Randy Malloy.