Steve West sitting before the banner of the brand he helped build
  • Steve West sitting before the banner of the brand he helped build
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With posts decrying “an end of an era,” and lamenting “there goes our music,” social media was reacting to veteran DJ Steve West’s surprise separation Wednesday from 91X.

West joined 91X a month after 91X flipped to a “cutting edge of rock” format in January of 1983. Except for a few lapses, the British expatriate was with the station for 28 of its past 31 years as an alt-rock station. West came to San Diego from a station in Orange County in 1982 and before that was a DJ in his native England.

Since launching the “Resurrection Sunday” show in 1989, West has served as San Diego’s pied piper for the heritage artists who defined 91X during the ’80s and mid-’90s, when it dominated the local ratings and changed local music tastes. Within three months of flipping over to the “new wave” of modern rock cuts by the B-52s, the Cure, and Oingo Boingo, 91X was the top-rated station, blowing past KGB’s Ted Nugent and REO Speedwagon playlist. The success of 91X triggered other rock stations across the country to switch to alternative.

“I just DJ’d a high school reunion show last week,” says West. “One of the guys there said he was working at a Carl’s Jr. and they were all huddled around the radio when 91X flipped. We were the music station in town. I think [the 91X format flip] was one of the biggest days in San Diego broadcast history.”

West’s “Resurrection Sunday” morning show brought back deep cuts by the Misfits, Hoodoo Gurus, X, Sugarcubes, and Depeche Mode, artists that 91X was originally known for playing but which are otherwise ignored on local terrestrial radio today.

West’s only comment: “I wish 91X well.”

The separation is noteworthy, considering how well “Resurrection Sunday” performed in the ratings. Insiders say that the show was regularly the top-rated music show during its time slot and was often in the top three among all local stations in the targeted age groups during Sunday morning.

In addition to his Sunday show, West also worked part-time as a fill-in 91X DJ.

Will West get back on the airwaves? “All I can say is stay tuned,” he says. “There will an announcement shortly.”

91X is still home to some of its other heritage DJs. Oz Medina joined the station in 1985 and Mike Halloran and Robin Roth came on board in 1986. While L.A.’s KROQ aired the modern-rock/alternative-rock format a few years earlier than 91X, none of KROQ’s trailblazing on-air talents (Jed the Fish, Freddie Snakeskin, the Poorman) remain on the L.A. airwaves.

As of this morning there were 183 members of a “Boycott 91X” Facebook page that was created in the wake of West’s departure.

91X program director Christy Taylor did not respond to questions about West’s departure.

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Comments

Ken Leighton July 18, 2014 @ 2:08 p.m.

It was brought up that legendary DJ Jed the Fish actually does have a one hour music show each week on the non-commercial KCSN-FM based at Cal State Northridge. His 3 pm Saturday show, "Fresh Catch with Jed the Fish" can actually be heard via KCSN.org and via the Tune In and I Heart Radio APPs. He was instrumental in making KROQ play the Talking Heads and The Ramones in 1977 when others didn't get it. Sadly, Jed left KROQ a couple years ago.

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cuka July 19, 2014 @ 11:48 a.m.

As an outside observer, this makes absolutely no sense. I was upset when they changed his time slot from 6am-noon! Steve West is an integral part of the San Diego music scene.

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Ken Leighton July 19, 2014 @ 11:48 a.m.

Christy Taylor responded by email that Resurrection Sunday would continue with a new host but did disclose who that new host would be. She declined to elaborate on why West was let go.

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Ken Harrison July 19, 2014 @ 6:05 p.m.

Thanks Ken L. for taking us back, those like you and I that lived this. Steve West was the best. He'd show up to the Old #7 Distillery when I worked there, just for fun, to hang out with 91X listeners, probably to your Incognito shows as well. Steve West was "in the scene" and "of the scene" of New Wave music in San Diego. I remember our good friend who was producing the morning show at KGB, trying to justify their dropped ratings, claiming that KGB also played New Wave, pointing out that Wang Chung was on KGB's playlist. What an era!!!!

LIttle did the first 91X listeners know that Steve and the other 91X DJ's had to drive to the Mexican studio everyday, I think in Rosarito, to do their shows, until Pres. Reagan de-regulated the broadcast industry, and allowed Mexican-owned frequencies to have studios in the U.S.

Hopefully there are still more stories to come of the New Wave era in San Diego. Don't even get me started on X-Fest in Mex., the battles for club stages between the long-haired rockers and us new wavers. And we can't forget The Tweed Sneakers!

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Ken Leighton July 20, 2014 @ 10:34 a.m.

Yes, Ken H., Steve and all the other 91X DJs had to drive across the border to the TJ studios until 1991, according to Steve. Oz Medina handled the Resurrection show this morning. No news on who will do it permanently. It was apparently pre-recorded because if you called in all you got was a busy signal, which is what happens when there is no one in the studio. If/when Steve does land the show at another station, doing it live would be a plus should 91X continue to pre-record Resurrection Sunday. Also, Steve did a lot with trivia and facts about the artists he played. Oz didn't add much. Surely Steve would continue his story telling. Wonder what the new name would be. Maybe Flashback Sunday? Regarding Joe Sena's comment that two former KROQ DJs are on the L.A. airwaves because they are on a HD channel, I would ask how many people do you know that listen to HD (High Definition) radio. Who even owns an HD radio? I think more people have a shortwave radio than HD.

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pearljammed July 27, 2014 @ 9:19 a.m.

This is like the third of fourth time this guy has been canned from 91X. I agree that Steve West has vast reserves of musical knowledge but personally, I do not care for him. I have heard stories from behind-the-scenes--of how he acts like a big shot at the station and causes trouble for other radio employees. He likes to use the legal system to retaliate against what he perceives are his enemies. His reputation proceeds him always. I also do not think it is a good idea for him to be working around young people. Steve West is NOT a good guy,

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