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.