Jonesy’s Jukebox Returns! To the Evil Empire…

Remember back, if you can, to winter of 2003. Terrestrial radio was boring, bland, much as it is now. The only real “alternative” radio station in Los Angeles was the CBS monolith called KROQ. Not much of an alternative. People were turning to their iPods in droves.

Then, suddenly, on Christmas Day 2003, with a blast of The Ramones “We Want the Airwaves,” a real alternative was born, and they called it Indie 103.1. From that day till its final terrestrial one, January 15, 2009, we were graced with some of the best radio ever to cross airwaves.

But it was on February 10, 2004, that radio was truly changed forever. That day was the day the irrascible, farting, belching, dead-air-flaunting machine that is Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols began his radio career with his trusty producer, Mark Sovel, Indie’s visionary music director, by his side.

There were three versions of Jonesy’s Jukebox. The second version had Indie’s production director, Chuck P. as producer. But the Jonesy-Chuck P. mix just wasn’t the same thing. Jonesy seemed to want more of a lackey, someone he could kick around, and in came Kevin Begley, from Boston’s WFNX. Young, green, he suited the bill perfectly. Except for one thing.

The Sovel-Jonesy mix was an equal pairing. Modest Sovel, of course, will deny this, but while Jonesy was the star, the Sex Pistol, the legend, Sovel was also tops in his field of DJdom. For every Jonesy push, Sovel pushed back. Takes a lot of strength to do that. Strength that both Chuck P. and Begley ultimately lacked opposite Jonesy.

You can talk to anyone who listened to Indie 103.1 regularly. Every person will wax rhapsodic over which bits were their favorites. Whose show they liked the best, or listened to the most. Which guest really bowled them over. But among the hardcore listeners, the jewel in Indie 1031’s crown is, was, and always will be the Jonesy-Sovel pairing. Or “Shovel,” as King Jonesy decreed him to be.

Even today, as news came over the transom about Jonesy’s Jukebox once again hitting the terrestrial airwaves, the recurring question hitting my inbox was: “Is he doing it with Shovel?” (Aka, is it gonna be great again? Or crap?)

More on that later.

Cause there’s another big ugly pink elephant in the room. During Indie the upstart’s years in terrestrial radio, not only were they at first not taken seriously; they were then openly harrassed by the monolith KROQ. The big station (I took to calling it “The Evil Empire” on my podcast and blog) spent quite a lot of time kicking the little station that could. They might say it was all in good competitive fun. But it did get ugly.

After hanging on for five long wonderful years (a Sex Pistols reunion and tour of Europe in the mix), way past when anyone thought they would, Indie 103.1 ended its terrestrial operations, gutted its staff and opted to keep the Internet version of the station, which was still drawing ads, going. It’s still going now (

One thing KROQ was good at during those five years and after is stealing Indie’s best stuff. Bands, songs, playlist items, even staff. I suppose it’s no surprise then, in these recession days when Yahoo has to suck it up and be happy that Bing is now their search engine, that we find, beginning Sunday: Jonesy’s Jukebox will once again start spinning the tunes. (YAY! Applause) On the Evil Empire, KROQ. (Hmmm.)

It is with trepidation that one hears that news if one is a hardcore Indie 103.1 fan. But I’m happy to tell you that it’s the good version of Jonesy’s Jukebox: the one with Shovel alongside. We can only wonder if “Fast Food Rockers” and songs accompanied by melodica are far behind. (This version’s focus is more “new music,” apparently.)

Those Jukebox shows were truly magic. The more interaction with Shovel the better, in my view. Jonesy can get a bit ornery, even for the most dedicated listener. Thank God, Shovel’s there to balance him out, to bring the funny. Radio truly almost doesn’t get better than that.

I know it’s KROQ, but listen, won’t you?
The fourth edition of Jonesy’s Jukebox begins airing Sundays from 7 pm to 9 pm, this Sunday, October 10, on KROQ, 106.7 in Los Angeles. You can also stream it here:
KROQ radio stream