Streaming station Inhailer Radio celebrates four years of bridging the gap between alternative rock and modern rock in Cincinnati

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Carriers at Inhailer Radio’s Fourth Anniversary Party at Fretboard BrewingPhoto: provided by Coran Stetter

At a low point in the Cincinnati music scene just a few years ago, there was no radio arena that featured independent music artists and local performers. The beloved independent rock station WOXY-FM had finally closed its doors and WNKU-FM had been sold, growing from an outlet for musicians in Greater Cincinnati to a Christian radio station.

But then the streaming platform Inhailer Radio came to fill the void, offering its slogan “Breath of Fresh Waves”, and underground alternative rock once again had a permanent place in Cincinnati.

In June, Inhailer Radio celebrated its fourth anniversary.

“It’s amazing how far we’ve come in just four years,” said Inhailer Radio founder Coran Stetter. “What started out as a few music lovers trying to do something to keep the Cincinnati music scene connected has grown into a huge community of independent music supporters.”

In 1983, WOXY-FM, also known as 97X (at 97.7 FM), operated out of Butler County and was the first of its kind in Cincinnati. It was an independent radio station that played modern rock, embracing the principles of the Glam, Punk, Indie and Alternative genres.

In 2007, Rolling stone stated that 97X had been one of the best stations in the country, that is, until it was sold in January 2004. The new owners ended all terrestrial broadcasts of 97X in May and launched the one of the country’s premier Internet stations. But that too failed, as the web station changed hands several times before shutting down in 2010 (97.7 FM is now called La Mega and broadcasts Spanish programming in Cincinnati).

After the end of 97X, it was “a very difficult time for the Cincinnati music scene,” says Stetter. No true independent rock station served the region until 2015, when WNKU-FM took on a new direction.

Owned by the University of Northern Kentucky, the modern WNKU (89.7 FM) – which began in the 1980s as a Bluegrass and Folk outlet – has strived to emulate the success of the country’s major independent stations. following a format similar to KEXP-FM in Seattle, which included showcasing local music once per hour. WNKU developed a passionate fan base of listeners and performers before being sold in 2017 due to university budget cuts. The station was taken over by Bible Broadcasting Network and now broadcasts Christian radio.

After the sale of WNKU, Stetter, whose group Dream Pop Multimagic had been featured on the station, came up with the idea of ​​Inhailer Radio to save Independent Rock in Cincinnati.

Nils Quran Jay Jd (1)Inhailer Radio Music Director Nils Illokken (left) and Inhailer Founder Coran Stetter (second from left)Photo: provided by Coran Stetter“We didn’t want to have this void that occurred between WOXY and WNKU during that period of about 10 years where there was really no connected scene. The thesis when we launched Inhailer Radio was basically, “Could you have an app-based radio station that would primarily market to a place like terrestrial radio?” “, Explains Stetter.

In order to once again avoid the lack of alternative radio in Cincinnati, Stetter reached out to other members of the WNKU community to get the momentum and resources to develop a mobile app and website that would carry the same values. as the beloved radio station.

Since 2017, Inhailer has been streaming music on its iPhone and Android apps, as well as on its website. The station takes inspiration from the late WNKU by playing music you wouldn’t find on mainstream radio and constantly highlighting local independent artists. Inhailer Radio started out with just two DJs and has since grown into 24/7 streaming with nearly 20 volunteer DJs serving around 50,000 listeners monthly, Stetter says.

“Where we really took inspiration from WNKU was this idea of ​​not having a local show at midnight on a Sunday when no one is listening (to play local music),” says Stetter. “We just take the best local music that is presented to us and mix it into our rotation the same way you would hear anyone else.”

DJs include Melvin Dillon of local Soul Step Records, who hosts his “Soul Step Radio” show; Claire Muenchen, who hosts “Femme FM”; and Kaitlyn Peace, which focuses on independent and local music.

Inhailer uses the platform to show that the Cincinnati music scene vibrates as loud as the national artists commonly heard elsewhere on the dial.

In addition to playing local music, Inhailer reports to the North American College & Community Radio Chart, which means Inhailer receives music directly from promoters. Getting on the charts gave them the opportunity to play music from many up-and-coming artists before their songs became popular.

“Inhailer Radio provides an indispensable platform for incredibly diverse music from around the world,” said Inhailer Radio Music Director Nils Illokken. “You really don’t see any other source locally playing the music that we make. These artists are covered by Fork, Stereo eraser, Consequence of sound, and playing at festivals ranging from Bonnaroo to Coachella and more.

In late 2019, Inhailer signed a partnership with Cincinnati Public Radio, which Stetter said was exciting because it gave them access to the Earth Dial. Listeners can now tune into Inhailer Radio on WGUC’s 90.9 HD3 on radios with HD capabilities.

But he doesn’t stop at the radio.

“We would really like to start partnering with local venues and local promoters to bring artists into town that we have already organized and for whom we have an on-air audience,” he said.

As more and more emerging independent artists come to town, Stetter believes it will have a positive impact on Inhailer Radio’s importance to the Cincinnati music scene. In the long term, Inhailer’s goals include expanding to other formats and applying his model to other genres such as hip hop or blues.

“We want to take what we think is a successful model to attract even more partners, not just Indie Alternative, but everything Cincinnati is known for,” Stetter said.

Illokken agrees. “We are a big city of music with a rich history and we want to expand it even more,” he says.

Listen to Inhailer Radio and get more information on inhailer.com.

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