back when LSFM was a more acceptable station

Our new household helper seems to have settled in well. She's already familiar with where things are and what she's expected to do. She even sings while she works, in a way that tells me she's more-or-less happy and comfortable in this environment. She has also begun to demonstrate what helpers do to mark their territory: leave the radio on real loud while going about the chores.

Her station of choice, disturbingly, is a hodge-podge of mainstream pop, local hits and pinoy novelty with crass lyrics. Interspersed are corny jokes, squammy-sounding Taglish-speaking DJs and a crappy baby-talking station ID. Somewhere in all that, I heard the phrase "Barangay LS".

97.1 DWLS FM. The station of choice of jeepney drivers, yayas and jejemons. The airwave tripe of what used to be a #1 radio station.

I don't really know what happened, but LS didn't use to sound that jejemonic. There was a time when LS was actually cool.

"What's your favorite music station,?" the DJ would ask.
The caller would enthusiastically answer, "97.1 LS FM!"

It'd be shameful to admit now, but I listened to LS FM in the early '90s. But back then, they had an entirely different format. They had clever, English-speaking disc jockeys: the Triggerman, Master T, the Mole. They spoke good, accented American English; they were even a bit elitist, sometimes intimidating and belittling callers who didn't have good grammar. They hardly ever spoke in Filipino; the station IDs, promos and ads were in English.

LS FM was one of the top choices of students, even private schoolers. The station even often hosted in-campus dance parties. They called themselves Campus Radio and heralded the fact that they were #1. They played the most current mainstream and were responsible for making alternative a bit more accessible. They did not air beerhouse tunes, and they rarely played the kind of songs that would be heard on Eat Bulaga. They weren't entirely cool - they still had those crappy contests and callerfests - but it wasn't totally shameful to own up to your friends that you tuned in.

There used to be a daily countdown called the Top 20 at 12. At 12 noon through 1pm, the Triggerman played the 20 most-requested, most-voted songs. Sometimes there were "vote wars" between rock listeners and senti liteners, each camp trying to get their genre in the number one spot.

That time slot happened to coincide with our lunch break; my friends and I sometimes toted our Walkmans to tune in to an hour-long dose of pop culture while we ate or crammed for a test. I don't even remember why it was so important for us to know what the number one song was.

In those days, Guns n Roses' Use Your Illusion double album was released, then followed by "The Spaghetti Incident?". For a whole stretch of time, there was always at least one song (there could be as much as 3) by GnR in the Top 20. The longest reign was by the 7-minute 14-second track November Rain. Other apparent GnR populars of the day were Yesterdays, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Don't You Cry, Aint It Fun and Since i Don't Have You.

GnR and all of glam metal fizzled out almost instantly in '93 with the rise of grunge. I'm guessing that's about when LS began to lose it touch as well. Other local stations began to outdo Campus Radio, and their listeners slowly switched over to Monster Radio RX 93, TM or even WKC which was then considered the campiest of campy. There was even a joke at LA 105 that the only place you would hear cheesy power ballads were in beerhouses, under a bridge or at LS FM. I didn't notice when LS stopped bragging that they were #1; I was likely already deep into NU 107 by then.

Thanks to our new helper, I am unwillingly being reacquainted with LS - or rather, being just acquainted with this thing that is now known as Barangay LS. So far finding it disgusting.



Saturdays of '92 when I had nowhere to go and didn't want to do homework, I'd be on the phone chatting with my then-best-friend, Sam. She often dared me to phone LS to send in a request or greet our friends, and I humored her just so I had a reason not to hit the books. Her favorite request was Skid Row's I Remember You. Darn, it took several redials before I made contact.

I once sent in the names of our six closest pals in school; they were read out by a student DJ named Mellow (or Melo?). Our friend Ven had just gotten a perm at that time so I called her "Kulot". Ven happened to be listening that Saturday, and boy, was she mad at me come Monday. I told her it was Sam's idea.

Sam and I each took turns to join a silly contest for a Neozep promo, just for the heck of it. I told a knock-knock joke on air using a Christmas carol ("Ah-choo Mommy kissing Santa Claus" ... dammit, that was embarrassing). I gave a fake name, Melissa, and when the DJ asked where I went to school, I said in my ever pa-cute voice that I didn't want to say (Come on, after a stupid stunt like that? My school would've disowned me!) Of course I never bothered to pick up my prize, since I wasn't interested in collecting a Neozep gift pack and I didn't have an ID with my fake name on it.
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