There is no joy in Xville; the mighty Reno radio station, KTHX 100.1 FM, will go to dead air at 5:15 p.m. on Sept. 27.
Three days later, at 10 a.m. Sept. 30, a new name and format will take the place of the “adult album alternative” offerings at “The X.” For more than three decades, KTHX featured often eclectic playlists that included alternative rock, as well as blues, soul, roots and contemporary independent rock, and was a fixture on many listeners’ radio dials. The station broadcasts across Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe.
Details are sketchy, but Mike Murray, the general manager for the station owned by Lotus Communications since 2016, said the songs to be aired on — the yet unspecified — new format will eventually be decided by listeners. He knows some long-time fans will mourn the passing of the format, he said.
‘I heard it on The X’
“I’ve been through a format change in the past and it feels like you are losing a member of you family,” Murray said. “I think that there’s going to be quite a few people that will have similar feelings, and of course we understand. It’s a difficult transition here, too.”
The change, he said, is a reflection of the way people use radio has evolved over the years. “When people are looking for deeper cuts or longer versions of songs, they are typically finding them. They are digging out their own music library or they are going to stream some of that stuff.”
As those deeper-music-library fans move to new ways to access the type of playlists KTHX has traditionally offered, he said, “we’re looking to attract a new audience that can appreciate a wide variety of music, maybe a little newer.”
“We appreciate everyone that has been a part of our family for so long and we hope that they enjoy our new sibling, so to speak, and give it a shot.”– Mike Murray, KTHX general manager.
‘Something to mourn’
Mark Earnest, a longtime local musician and the co-owner of ToneMark Sounds, a local label, said after moving to Reno in the late 1990s, KTHX FM was a pleasant surprise. The station seemed to have no real format except celebrating a wide variety of music.
“There was stuff that qualified as genuine left-of-center rock, and even punk, right next to someone like Greg Brown or a deep cut from Tom Petty,” he said. “It was still super eclectic even toward the end, although it was mostly playing a lot of familiar songs you’d hear on the Reno classic rock or alt-rock stations. At the same time, they would surprise you and throw in a newer band or artist that no one else would touch on the radio out here.”
Right up to the end, the X featured a “locals-only” spotlight every weeknight, Earnest noted.
“They were just killing it with that, and it was a huge support to that more indie rock or indie-pop or acoustic scene here,” he said. “That was still a brave thing to do in this day and age. That will be something to mourn. Musicians around here need the most above-ground attention they can get, especially with COVID still happening. I hope the (new format) keeps that feature for the station.”
Continuous music planned
Murray said that, at first, “we’re going to clean-plate it. It’s going to be all music all the time and we’re going to add stuff as we get feedback from the listeners. They are going to help decide what the future of the radio station will be.”
He said the music on the new format will still be locally-programmed and won’t be relying on a corporate playlist, a direction taken by many syndicated stations. There will be no disc jockeys on air at first, he said, “we’re going with straight music to start and add personalities as we go.” The owner of Lotus, the station’s parent company, believes in “live, local radio,” Murray said.
The new station also will continue to focus on local activities, he said, with a live, local presence at some community venues and events. All will be revealed at 10 a.m. on Thursday, he said, and the new station will be shaped to fit the tastes of the listeners.
”We’ll be asking for a lot of listener feedback and, we expect it. If they like what they are hearing, we want to hear it; if they hate it, we want to hear that, too. In this community, which has been so good to us for so long, we want to be there for the people.” – Mike Murray, KTHX general manager.
The X has been a mainstay of the local airwaves since it debuted in 1990. It also has been active in promoting charitable organizations and community causes. Lately, for example, the station has been boosting Truckee River Cleanup Day, Sept. 25. On Sept. 24, DJ Jamie in the Afternoon interviewed one of the organizers of the cleanup event during drive time.
Before and after that segment, the station’s playlist included classic rock songs by the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Weezer and Pearl Jam, as well as newly-released cuts from Brandi Carlile and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. KTHX describes its current format as “the familiar and the fresh.” It appears the new station will be fresher in the choice of songs on its playlists.
Murray said he knows a lot of folks will be sad at the passing of the familiar, but he hopes they focus on the good times when the old X was the soundtrack of their lives, while giving the new station a chance to take its place.
“We’re trying to go out on top,” said Murray, who has been general manager of the station since January 2019. “We will celebrate a long, successful run and we’re thrilled to move to the next chapter.”
KTHX-FM (100.1 FM, The X) has been an adult album alternative commercial radio station broadcasting to the Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe for 31 years. Lotus Radio Corp. also operates stations Rock 104.5 KDOT, 105.7 KOZZ, ESPN 94.5 KUUB, CBS Sports 94.1 FM/1450 AM KHIT and Fox Sports 630 AM KPLY. News 4-Fox 11 is a content partner with Lotus Radio.