After online rumors surfaced tonight that local alternative radio station 105.3 FM The Spy will leave the airwaves at midnight, inside employees confirmed the report is true. Sources said, “It was a deal gone bad.”
The Spy’s on-air personality and ringleader, Ferris O’Brien, was not available for comment.
However, O’Brien stated on Twitter and Facebook around 10 p.m., “Hope is not lost. It just has a new road map. We are not gone. We are just changing our format. We will still be streaming from thespyfm.com.”
The switch may not be permanent, as O’Brien hopes to return to the airwaves. The station currently playing on the channel formerly maintained by O’Brien is run by Citadel Communications.
Inside sources said, “I’m looking for a new job.”
Ironically, the station just celebrated its one-year anniversary last Friday night with a multiartist concert at The 51st Street Speakeasy.
HISTORY OF SPIES
As fans know all too well, the shutdown is not the first for The Spy’s brand.
O’Brien earned a degree in print journalism from the University of Oklahoma, but his radio career began in 1989 at KDGE-FM in Dallas, and later took a job in California, where he lived as a child. He worked on-air in San Diego for a few years before returning to Oklahoma in the late ’90s to work for KHBZ-FM, which was then alternative radio station 95X.
Later, he left 95X and Oklahoma City for a post at Stillwater’s KSPI-FM. When that station changed formats in 2000, O’Brien joined KSYY-FM, an alternative station owned by radio giant Citadel Communications. He helmed KSYY’s switch to an alternative format in 2002, creating what would become The Spy’s signature: underground, obscure and atypical rock ‘n’ roll, presented by O’Brien and other DJs, including Chainsaw Kittens front man Tyson Meade.
In June 2004, The Spy died, and KSYY was reformatted into regional Mexican station La Indomable. O’Brien stuck with Citadel and moved back to Oklahoma City, where he kept The Spy brand alive ” barely ” with a one-hour Thursday night show broadcast “from a converted closet” at the company’s mother station, KATT-FM.
In March 2009, he approached Larry Bastida, the market manager for Citadel in Oklahoma City.
“I told him that I had a crazy idea,” O’Brien told Oklahoma Gazette last December. “He kind of looked at me like, ‘Oh, shit, what in the hell do you want to do?'”
O’Brien wanted to bring The Spy back, this time on his own, and said he was surprised by Bastida’s interest, willingness and moral support, which helped convince Citadel to turn the reins over to the DJ.
“We’ve always had a good relationship,” O’Brien, said about Bastida, adding that The Spy wouldn’t have launched without his boss’ blessing. “He vouched for me with Citadel. “I’m not sure it would have happened as smoothly, as friendly as it did without him. He’s the one that brought The Spy back to Oklahoma City. He thought it was a good move.”
Ferris O’Brien. Photo/Mark Hancock