Stuck in the 90’s – San Diego Radio is Stupid


I moved to San Diego from Bend, OR when I was 15 years old. It was 1984. The 80’s were in full raging swing. I listened to a lot of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, AC/DC, Queen, Sex Pistols and other (at the time) edgy bands. But I was still pretty small town. I arrived in San Diego the year after 91X started broadcasting their ground breaking musical madness from a bootleg station just over the border in Tijuana, Mexico. They broadcast out of another country. And so they could literally play any damn thing they wanted. And they did in deed play it. It was a magical time in music and for those of us here in radio. They played pretty alternative, crazy cool music. it was the 80’s so there was a lot of music made during the 80’s. Not the drivel that most people think of when they think of 80’s music.

Bands that resonated and dived deep changed my life like

  • Sisters of Mercy
  • Bauhaus
  • The Cure
  • Toy Dolls
  • Skinny Puppy
  • Elastica
  • Jesus and Mary Chain
  • The Stranglers
  • Joy Division
  • The Fall
  • Violent Femmes

I listened to a lot of radio during my formative teenage years. Well actually I only listed to 91X, the rest of the stations sucked ass. I listened to even more tapes and records but the radio was a constant source of NEW MUSIC. By that I mean music that was not already popular. Music that you did not hear on any other station or anywhere else. Radical, breathtaking music by unknown bands. Of course they played more of the popular bands as they grew. but for a few years they were quite magical.

The rest of the radio stations in San Diego were purely commercial. There was the classic rock station, the hip hop station, the classical station, the country station and the other 10 Top 40 stations. They played the music that was either currently massively popular or had been massively popular for decades. The safe, easy to sell ads against bet. In other words the music that no one I knew wanted to listen to.

This was the 1980’s. Not much changed in radio station land between 1984 and 1999. 15 years of ongoing radioness. Almost no changes in formats with a few exceptions.

I moved from San Diego to the Bay Area in 1999. I lived in the Bay Area and then El Salvador until 2013. Almost 14 years of ongoing radioness.

Not sure why, but after this 14 years I thought that there would be changes in the radio stations, music formats, DJ’s or at least the actual songs played.


From 1984 to 2014, a period of 30 years of massive, mind-blowing progress in every area of the world, San Diego radio managed to change about as much as the weather here. Literally the same exact DJ’s, on the exact same radio stations, with the same formats, playing not just the same TYPE of songs, but the exact same damn songs. Unfortunately they seemed to have chosen only the inane, insipid songs and dumped the good ones.

In San Diego you have three choices in what type of music you want to listen to on the radio:

you decide

Literally the exact same DJ’s that I used to go to concerts with when I was 16 years old are STILL the same DJ’s playing the exact same songs at the same station. Not even freaking kidding. it’s weird and creepy to me. Just like modern-day Republicans are. Every radio station i San Diego now just plays the sub par music from the 1990’s. Not the great songs, just the popular ones.

My wife and I used to love the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We even both saw them in 1985 before there were anything. They have a vast collection of music beyond the 3 songs they play on non stop rotation on every radio station in America. Now we hate them and turn them off every time they come one. San Diego is a crazy weird combination of everything stuck in the 1990’s and the 1960’s. Luckily I can buy other music and listen to either good modern music (Snowden, Black Lips, Death Grip, Brother Grand etc) or the actual good songs by those older bands.

San Diego is home to me again. But the radio here is stupid and is dead to me. I fear for humanity if what the radio is playing is any indication.

By Andy Newbom

My name is Andy Newbom. At this time there are less than 10 Newboms in the world. Not sure if thats good or bad.