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A Listener's Guide to L.A.'s Alternative Music Stations

August 21, 1993|STEVE WEINSTEIN

* KXLU-FM (88.9)--The only refuge for punks and hard-core fans of the obscure, the wild, the sexy, the garbled and the cutting edge. Staffed and hosted by students at Loyola Marymount University, the station lacks professionalism and proper radio decorum, which to devotees just adds to its charms. The frustrating drawback is that sometimes you'll never know the name of the band singing that amazing new song nor ever hear it again. But there are never any commercials. The station plays avant-garde rock all day weekdays and late at night. The all-request "Happy Hour," weekdays at 5 p.m., is as good an hour of straight-up, one-chord punk as it gets.

* KCRW-FM (89.9)--Chris Douridas hosts "Morning Becomes Eclectic" weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Amid atmospheric New Age and international tracks, Douridas favors the acoustic, jazzier end of the alternative pop scene, but he plays lots of imports, small label and local groups that never turn up on commercial radio. He was serving up tracks from the Dutch group Bettie Serveert, for example, long before their hit single made KROQ's playlist. He also presents live in-studio performances almost every day. No commercials here either, except for those ubiquitous KCRW promotions. KCRW's nightly music shows, while not exactly "alternative," are frequently unique and ear-opening, although Deirdre O'Donoghue, who now plies her trade Sunday evenings on 91X in San Diego, is missed.

* XTRA-FM (91.1)--What might be the best commercial rock station in this city, actually isn't in this city. And thus the problem. The station--known as 91X--is based in San Diego, but its signal out of Tijuana reaches some parts of Los Angeles, especially during the hotter months of the year. Sometimes, though, if you turn the corner, you lose it. Some true local fans have been known to listen to the station even when static reigns as an act of faith. "The X" plays a variation of the KROQ format, but the daily mix is much looser with less repetition of the hits. And the station places a much heavier emphasis on "heritage" alternative groups like Blondie, XTC and the Go-Gos. Like KROQ, it is supported by frequent commercials.

* COLLEGE RADIO--Various Southern California colleges also have alternative music shows on student-run radio stations, but their signals are limited to the immediate area.

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