Back in 1996, if you happened to live in Los Angeles, you could tune in to a radio station called Groove Radio. Located at 103.1 on the dial, Groove Radio had the distinct honor of being the first mainstream radio station with an all-electronica format. Yep, 24 hours a day, Groove Radio thumped popular techno hits and showcased well-known electronica DJs.
Groove Radio didn't last for long: After a year, it went off the air -- sold to a new owner who was interested in more mainstream and lucrative fare. But now, a new and improved Groove Radio has reemerged online: GrooveRadio.com, which launched Tuesday, is hoping that the Net will lend success where traditional radio didn't.
"This is a unique format that doesn't exist on any radio station in America, maybe even around the world," explains DJ "Swedish Egil," who co-founded Groove Radio with his wife Ena Aalvik. "Our mission is to expose people to this format."
Egil is a bit older than your typical techno DJ -- bald and boasting a rich radio voice, he cut his teeth playing Erasure and New Order in the 1980s at the famous KROQ FM in Los Angeles, before launching first MARS FM (the techno predecessor to Groove Radio), and then, in 1992, a syndicated three-hour Groove Radio show. Groove Radio grew to be not merely a California radio station, but a record label with a number of compilations and a television show. The original Groove Radio even broadcast online.
But it's been nearly three years since Groove Radio cranked up the tunes either on the radio dial or online; the new Web launch comes as the popularity of online radio is rocketing. Now with Groove Radio, besides tuning in to tracks from artists as widespread as Bob Marley, Goldie and Leftfield, you can also peruse music news or watch interviews with DJs -- and, eventually, purchase the music itself.
GrooveRadio.com isn't the first online radio station to tinker with electronic tunes. In fact, it's a bit late to the game. Techno, ever popular with computer lovers, has helped drive the burgeoning MP3 movement. Over on Shoutcast, you can check out hundreds of amateur radio stations; more underground projects like Betalounge and Groovetech have already broadcast thousands of hours of eclectic tunes by both famous and unknown DJs.
These radio stations have flocked to the Net precisely because of tales like that of Groove Radio -- traditional radio just isn't electronica friendly, with its lack of vocals, extended lengths and repetitive tunes. Groove Radio is learning that lesson as well. In fact, Egil thinks that the Web has turned out to be a better medium for electronica than traditional radio ever was. About "80 to 90 percent of what you'll hear on Groove Radio is not on radio stations today," he explains. "I think that in a way, after this, what we do will never again really work on terrestrial radio -- the whole Groove Radio experience, with chat and information and buying music, can't be fulfilled there anymore."