The return of Z95.3
By Sharon Miki, Humour Editor
Sometimes, you can go home again—but that doesn’t mean it won’t be dusty and outdated when you get there.
Growing up in Vancouver in the ‘90s, it was hard to avoid the pervasiveness of Z95.3 on the radio. In the days before iTunes and MP3s, the radio provided the omnipresent soundtrack to our days—and the Top 40 station played a mix that was safe and popular enough for the public consumption of 11-year-olds.
The station’s poppy tunes and overplayed jingles (“Zed 95 point threeee… Vancouver!”) trickled out of car windows and tickled our auditory canals with an insidious uniformity that’s almost impossible to find today, thanks to the beautiful mish-mash of music options we now have access to. And who can forget those mid-‘90s summers when everyone and their mother (well, I mean, we didn’t have cars then—so it was probably just all of our mothers) had an obnoxious Z95.3 sticker plastered to their bumper?
As of March 31, thanks to a change in station ownership from Bell Media to Newcap Radio, the frequency of 95.3 reverted back to Z for the first time in seven years. The most common reaction to the switch seems to be one of sweet nostalgia: “Oh, really? Cool. Aw, I remember how I used to love listening to Z when I was a kid. Remember those stickers?”
I, on the other hand, feel weirdly uncomfortable with the change.
I’m not against Z becoming Z again because I didn’t enjoy it back in the day—one of my favourite childhood memories is of calling in about a hundred times to try and get the poor DJ to play a Spice Girls song for me and my friend at a sleepover (poor DJ). I’m against it because I did love it when it was in its prime, and I don’t want to sully my fond memories.
It’s human nature to want to go back to what was great before. However, no matter how much you’ve loved something at a specific moment in time, bringing it back now will almost always just provide a pale imitation.
Time passes, people grow older, and the cultural context changes. Just like the most scrumptious cake tastes stale after a week on the counter, entertainment properties lose their magic when you try to bring them back years later. Just look at how Harrison Ford’s sluggish pace sullied the memory of a quick-witted Indiana Jones in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, or how the jokes felt forced and stunted from the same cast in the reanimated Arrested Development that was brought back last year.
While the new 95.3 station may indeed be great for this time, tugging on our social nostalgia by “bringing back” Z almost a decade after it left the dial, and almost two decades after its peak, can only weaken the fondness of our memories (because, after all, it’s no longer 1996).
Just because the station was sold doesn’t mean that it has to emulate its past glory. Come up with a new name—after all, there are 25 other perfectly good letters in the alphabet we could get behind. “S” feels very now.