Are we in the midst of a rock revolution?

Rock music badges 5
Rock music pins/badges: Beatles, Bowie, Barrett (Photo credit: jovike)

The question I put before you is the subject of this post.  It’s no secret that I enjoy many of the styles and eras of rock music.  Starting in the mid-1980’s, I listened to both 92.7 WLIR (“alternative”) and 102.7 WNEW-FM (“classic rock”).  This was several years before the rise of the alt nation in the 1990s.  Back then, it wasn’t really cool to mix what was then “alternative” and “classic rock” on the same radio station (Beastie Boys and Led Zeppelin? Perish the thought!)  Fast forward to today, and things are a bit different.

In recent months, there have been a few stations in the area that have either brought back or revamped a rock format.

July 17, 2012: “New Rock 101.9” (WRXP-FM) made it’s move to alternative after failing miserably with all-news.  From 2008 to 2011, RXP was starting to make some inroads as a rock station.  Then, in July 2011, they were sold to Merlin Media, and all-news was put in place.  One year later, Merlin brought alternative back to 101.9, and now their ratings have risen as a result.

Songs heard on the first day (as heard on the linked aircheck above): Beastie Boys “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”, Foo Fighters “Walk”, Third Eye Blind “Graduate”, Phoenix “1901”, Of Monsters & Men “Little Talks”, Offspring “Self Esteem”, Black Keys “Tighten Up”, Rage Against The Machine “Guerrilla Radio”, Foster The People “Don’t Stop”, Green Day “Oh Love”, Group Love “Tongue Tied”

August 27, 2012: WRCN shifted to mainstream rock after 10+ years as classic rock.  WRCN has been playing rock music for a long time.  Before they flipped to classic rock in the late 1990s, they were mainstream rock.  Time will tell how they fare with their new direction, which may be tweaked in the months to come.

Songs heard on the first day (as heard on the linked aircheck above): Metallica “Master of Puppets”, Sponge “Plowed”, Guns N’ Roses “You Could Be Mine”

September 14, 2012: 94.3 “The Shark” (WIGX-FM) took a bite out of 94X.  Only weeks after WRCN made its shift, 94.3 went in a similar direction.  Again, time will tell how they fare, and they may do their own tweaking as well.

Songs heard on the first day (as posted by RadioInsight): Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Red Hot Chili Peppers “Give It Away”, Linkin Park “What I’ve Done”, Foo Fighters “My Hero”, Twisted Sister “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, Beastie Boys “Sure Shot”, 3 Doors Down “Kryptonite”, Stone Temple Pilots “Sex Type Thing”, Led Zeppelin “Black Dog”, Cypress Hill “Insane In The Brain”, Pearl Jam “Yellow Ledbetter”, Metallica “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, Live “I Alone”

These stations are not alone in playing new(er) rock music.  102.3 WBAB plays a lot of Boston and Led Zeppelin, but there are some rare occasions when newer music gets featured, such as the new Van Halen from earlier this year (you forgot about that one, didn’t you?).  Stations like 92.9/96.9 WEHM and 90.7 WFUV cannot be forgotten, either, as new music gets does get added to their playlists, including Coldplay, Dave Matthews, and the new Bob Dylan (yes, he’s alive and kicking).

While the format flip of three radio stations isn’t exactly a “rock revolution,” it may be a sign of things to come.  I’ve made reference to Alan Cross’ post about the 13-year music cycle theory before.  I’ll make reference to it again, with what he has to say about the current cycle, which he calls Cycle 5:

By the spring of 2002 […] the Backstreet Boys/N’Sync phenonmenon had grown so big that the backlash was catastrophic. Happy, opitimistic, danceable pop seemed inappropriate in a post-9/11 era. Rock began to once again reassert itself.


After peaking in the July of 2005 (when it seem that ever single rock band that mattered had a hit record out at the same time), rock once again slowly slipped in strength, losing ground to pop. The era of Bieber and Susan Boyle was ushered in to end off the first decade of the 21st century.

If Cycle 5 began in 2002, then, according to the theory, Cycle 6 should be starting up sometime in 2014. *  We won’t actually know we’re in the new cycle until after the fact, but we can look for signs now.

Black Keys
The Black Keys (Photo credit: Jason Persse)

Let me leave you with what I think may be one of those signs.  In March 2012, The Black Keys performed to sold-out shows in Madison Square Garden.  The Black Keys started out in the early 2000s as an indie band, playing smaller venues and performing as an opening act.  The Madison Square Garden shows are part of their first headlining tour, and those tickets sold out in minutes.  A testament to ticketing technology, or another harbinger of things to come?

* It’s possible that the effects of online file sharing, the decline of CD sales, and/or the rise of iTunes that may sway the cycle plus or minus one year, but let’s use 2014 for now.


Author: Dr. Chuck

I started out as a child, then things kind of grew from there.  I spend way too much time around computers and radios, but I do like to take a break once in a while.  I'm not a real doctor, but I played one on the radio in college. A bit later on, I wrote an article that was published in COMPUTE!'s Gazette (Commodore 64/128 magazine). I also think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

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