Tuesday, April 14, 2020

WLSO 90.1 FM: A Look Back In The Wayback Machine, Part 4 (2004-2007)

It's now time for our fourth installment of our retrospective mini-series about WLSO 90.1 FM, Lake Superior State University's long-time campus radio station, thanks to The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine! We left off in this series in the fall of 2004, around the time of their website receiving some overdue updates, and while we touched on this era's station history page in part 3, all of the then-new and current materials from the mid-2000s are in this post. Remember, to set the mood, listen to LSSU's modern day internet radio station while exploring the content below.

In October 2004, WLSO updated their website into the layout it would maintain for the next 2+ years, harbouring some of the best and most substantive surviving information from the station's FM run, though highlighting text is absolutely essential to read the black-on-black writing. Various versions of the main website (past the logo splash page) can be viewed at this link. The news crawl on the main site mostly relates to staff information, personnel & DJ searches, and website updates, though in 2004, they did promote the Planet Smashers concert in Sault Ontario that October, and also hinted at plans to offer downloadable music through the website. 2005 updates there included a number of live events that the station sponsored (often College Nights at The Back Door), plus a contest for tickets for that fall's Hootie & The Blowfish concert at Kewadin Casino. The big 2006 story there was WLSO's headquarters moving from Brady Hall to the Cisler Center, with updates ceasing in October.

The contact page lists many of the station's key staff members in 2006, including then-station manager Ben Momber and alternative genre manager Lam Nguyen, though as of that May, the metal & punk genre director posts were vacant. Unfortunately, a January 2005 playlog file was not archived, but a treasure trove of the station's CD archives in 2006 can be read there still, listing dozens of albums in their then-current rotation, and most albums I checked still go to their sub-page, with their record label, genre, and track listing, and if songs were safe to be played on-air. Metal is a heavy component here, though local musicians were not represented. In the fall of 2004, a music reviews page existed at this link, though posted reviews were brief at best. Lam recommended metal albums from Diecast & Jet Motor Crash, and punk albums from The Reason and Big D & The Kids Table, among other genres, while Paul Bartunek positively reviewed the Big D & The Kids Table album in a separate post.

The first substantial WLSO on-air schedule data on The Wayback Machine since 2001 can be found via six backups viewable at this link. The late 2004 schedule was mostly on automation mode, but you may have listened to Erik & Jason's metal/alternative block on Monday nights at 10:00 PM or KP's Kickin' Country Hour on Thursdays at 3:00 PM. By the spring of 2005, WLSO was openly experimenting with genre-specific blocks when no DJs were present, with metal & punk usually at night. At this time, likely metal/punk shows like Punking It Up (Mondays & Wednesdays at 2:00 PM), Renegades of Rock (Thursdays at 10:00 PM), The Power Hour (Fridays at 8:00 PM), The Heavy Hits (weekends at 3:00 PM), and Balls to the Wall (Sundays at 5:00) were on the air. The latter continued into that fall, with new shows including the punk show Zero Signal (Mondays & Wednesdays at 3:00 PM), plus Rockin' Out With The Punkmaster on Fridays at 7:00 PM.

DJ Easy Mac & Dirty Blonde's classic rock-featured M.E. Show aired on Monday & Wednesday nights at this time too, while Lam featured alt-rock and rap on Audio Alchemy on Thursdays at 7:00 PM. By the fall of 2006, Zero Signal, The M.E. Show, and Audio Alchemy were all still on, now joined by Kevin "The Mighty" Kainula's Monday Metal Meltdown (12:00 PM) and Classic Rock Show (Tuesdays at 6:00 PM), among other programs. WLSO also aired a Laker Hockey Replay show at this time, plus What To Do In The Soo with Sally Childs on Wednesdays at 4:00 PM. As of December 2006, the Monday Metal Meltdown became the Morning Metal Meltdown airing Mondays-Thursdays at 8:00 AM, while DJ Alan O hosted the metal show Error Mechanica on Mondays at 8:00 PM & Thursdays at 3:00 PM. A few shows continued from prior semesters, but automation was becoming increasingly common, and the March 2007 backup saw no schedule updates.

Copies of the events page with listings were archived twice in 2005, listing a number of LSSU-hosted & WLSO-sponsored events, plus select major concerts, such as that year's David Lee Roth & Quiet Riot shows at Kewadin Casino. A new streamlined message board was hosted through Simple Machines from the fall of 2005 through at least March 2007, and while some sub-forums actually have Wayback Machine archives, it saw less usage, and all posts after 2005 are the work of spambots. The best surviving thread is Zero Signal host DJ Darren's list of his top 100 albums of 2005, with Jack's Mannequin in first place. At some point between April & September 2007, WLSO's mid-2000s website was taken down and replaced with a "Coming Soon" page, with staff confirming the following winter that the website was under construction while they migrated to a new server, only returning with a major redesign in December 2008.

We'll dive into WLSO in the late 2000s next, and with social media becoming more of a going concern at this time, I hope to spotlight programs with Facebook pages in future installments, not to mention, WLSO's own Facebook page, but that's for next time and/or beyond. That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site soon! Thanks everyone!

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