The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2013, No. 3: 97X puts listeners in charge
Local alt-rock station 97X isn’t afraid to try big new things — heck, that’s why they named their annual year-end rock festival Next Big Thing.
But the Cox Radio station completely transformed itself in January by becoming the first local station, and the second in the nation, to be programmed entirely by listeners, via 97xonline.com and an interactive app. Critics and tech-watchers around the country took notice — some called it a “DJ-killer app,” while TechCrunch wrote, “Is this what the future of terrestrial radio looks like? It just might be.”
The format change was met with resistance by some, but by mid-year the station and its fans had ironed out most of the kinks, and some surprising stuff started to get pushed through to the radio. For example, Frank Turner’s Recovery — an upbeat ditty about addiction — became one of the hottest and most requested tracks through the app. By the end of the year, 97X had booked Turner for Next Big Thing.
As all of this was happening, 97X continued to shower the area with free concerts by the likes of Panic! At The Disco, Twenty One Pilots, Coheed and Cambria, Switchfoot, Paper Tongues, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace and more. Regardless of your opinion of the app, it’s hard not to embrace a station that offers all that.