I have previously written about the role that epitonic.com had on my musical development. Before Epitonic (whose influence was largely due to the availability of high speed Internet at college), there was a radio station. Called Y100, it was located at 100.3 on the FM dial. I listened to it regularly throughout high school, when it was the single most important musical influence in my life.
There came a point in high school when I realized that my stance of being apathetic about music was just not going to work in the future. Starting in middle school, I had noticed that my fellow students were intensely interested in music. If you liked a band that they liked, there was a good chance that you could become their friend. If you happened to like a band they hated, then there was going to be a distinct lack of respect in your relationship with them.
By the middle of high school, I was sick of not having a response when people asking me what kind of music I liked. Using my cheap clock radio, I resolved to find a radio station that played the kind of music I liked. After some time of searching, I stumbled upon a station around 101 (but not B101). It was playing Live's "All Over You" from Throwing Copper. Although I recognized neither the band nor the album, I knew that the song was one I liked.
The song after it was one I liked as well. The song after that was vaguely familiar to me, but still appealing. At that point (sometime on a weekend afternoon), I knew that I had found my radio station. Since it was a Philadelphia station, reception was sometimes fuzzy around my high school in Princeton, but it did not matter. I would have had to find a station more in line with my taste to switch, and that was virtually impossible.
After I went to college, I was only able to listen to Y100 during vacations (there was a web stream for a while, but it was taken down during that strange period when rates for Internet radio royalties were still being determined). This was always an enjoyable experience, for I would be exposed to a variety of new songs and bands.
Of course, when my family moved from the Delaware Valley to the DC area, I was deprived of the ability to listen to Y100. I can remember frantically searching the FM radio spectrum, trying to find a radio station that would consistently play songs that I liked, or at the very least, could tolerate. One morning around sunrise, I managed to find a station that fit this profile. I remember thinking to myself, "This is the kind of song that Y100 would play!" Its signal was clear enough that I wondered why I had not been able to find it before. When the call sign was broadcast, I was both excited and disappointed to find that my errant fiddling with my stereo's antenna had found Y100 yet again. Unfortunately, the signal slowly began to become weaker. After about half an hour, it had disappeared completely, never to return again.
One day early last spring, I was browsing my AIM buddy list when I noticed that one of my friends had a "Y100 Rocks" buddy icon. Assuming that it was in support of Y100 (which did not surprise me, since he is from South Jersey), I told him that I liked it and asked him to point me toward a web stream. When I next saw him at work, he noted that Y100 had gone off the air, and that only an online radio station, run by ex-DJs, was left.
When I began to listen to the radio station, I was a bit surprised. Y100 had billed itself as "alternative rock," so it was always more mainstream than I liked. While it was infinitely better than the Top 40 format of stations like WPST, I was becoming increasingly annoyed every single time I had to listen to blink-182 or Kid Rock. As a result, I was glad to find that Y100Rocks' online stream was much more "indie" than its FM predecessor.
As a result, I have mixed feeling about Y100's demise. While I worry about the musical education of Philadelphia's youth, Y100Rocks allows me to listen to music from my favorite radio station even though I am in Somerville, Massachusetts. This would not be possible if Y100 was still broadcasting on 100.3. Luckily, this state of conflicted feelings will soon be resolved, as Y100Rocks is becoming part of XPN, a Philadelphia public radio station that plays a wide variety of music. Since XPN is even more esoteric in its musical tastes than Y100Rocks, I feel confident that I will like the new selection of music. Also, even though the Y100Rocks DJs will be getting airtime on XPN three days a week, an Internet radio stream will remain available. This, in my opinion, is truely the best of both worlds.
 To clarify, musical taste was not the end-all of social interactions in my school. Although I lived most of my days in silence, I was still able to find friends.
One of the unique characteristics of middle school for me was the fact that it was so small. With only about a hundred students (grades 6-8) and relative isolation from the high school (which was located in a different building), everyone knew everyone else, so nothing was a secret. While there was a relatively clear split between the kids who thought they were popular (a minority) and everyone else, there were not enough people to anyone to be picky about friends. If you had a horrendous personality, then it would become pretty clear after a while, and you would have no friends. Otherwise, you would be fine. I counted myself lucky that at the end of the first day, there were two guys who had been friendly to me - one of whom was a member of the "popular" group. I chose the "unpopular" one, partly because I liked his friends (who, in the ironies of American middle and high school, were actually more populous than the so-called popular kids), and partly because I liked him. In retrospect, this was a good choice.