New Wave: Dare To Be Different Artwork

New Wave: Dare To Be Different (MVDvisual)

New Wave: Dare To Be Different Showcases WLIR at the Forefront of New Wave in the States

New Wave on Selective Memory

Growing up in the ‘80s, radio did not play as important a role in the culture of my musical upbringing because in Indianapolis, we simply did not have alternative radio stations or programs that challenged the listener to reach out to new and inventive musical experiences. It was the independent record stores and fringe shops that gave us the incentive to be different.

Radio for us did not really come into play until the end of the decade. With libertine programs like Bloomington’s Brave New World and Butler University’s Night Music, those programs were mostly reactionary to the ‘80s while being proactive into the ‘90s. By this time Pump Up The Volume came out and opened the landscape of alternative radio being hip among the cool kids.

But before alternative radio was cool and hip, there was WLIR in Long Island. WLIR was at the forefront of alternative radio programming, playing music from bands like Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Blondie, Joan Jett, Talking Heads, and so many others. Many of these artists seem like old hat in this current climate. They were always No. In the early ‘80s they were barely a blip on most radio waves. New Wave: Dare to be Different (MVD Visual) dives into the culture, vibrancy and progressiveness of this small independent radio station, what it meant to the fans, and how it impacted bands like U2 and Howard Jones, among many others.

New Wave: Dare To Be Different Trailer

A radio revolution, the interviews with DJs like Larry the Duck, now a staple on Sirius XM’s First Wave, and Denis McNamara enlighten us with the struggles and accomplishments this station had. From conforming technology to beating label expectations by snagging imports to break airplay, WLIR proved the true outlaws of the radio world.

Not just for radio historians and music history buffs, Dare To Be Different is an enjoyable ride through ‘80s counterculture. It’s an angle into what it was like to be a part of the New Wave scene back then. The documentary also unintentionally taps into the history of New Wave as stories from artists that mimic books like Mad World delivers. As its radio programming became more robust and broader, so did the essence of New Wave, eventually colliding into ecstasy on Live Aid, which WLIR was an important part in its organization.

I may not have been raised on radio, but I can understand and appreciate the importance a radio station like this had on alternative culture and this documentary remembers its vibrancy.

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