Are You a Classic Rock Radio Expert?

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is the primary focus of classic rock radio format?

What is the demographic that classic rock radio format became popular with by the end of the 1990s?

What is the reason for classic rock stations playing a limited number of current releases?

What is the association between classic rock and the album era?

What are some of the artists that are featured heavily on classic rock radio?

What has classic rock radio been criticized for?

What is the gender association with classic rock radio?

What is the reason for the rise of classic-rock radio?

What are the characteristics of classic rock songs?


Overview of Classic Rock Radio Format in the US

  • Classic rock radio format developed from the album-oriented rock (AOR) format in the early 1980s in the United States.
  • It comprises rock music from the mid-1960s through the mid-2000s, primarily focusing on commercially successful blues rock and hard rock popularized in the 1970s AOR format.
  • The format became popular with the baby boomer demographic by the end of the 1990s, and has since received more exposure with younger listeners with the presence of the Internet and digital downloading.
  • Classic rock stations play a limited number of current releases which are stylistically consistent with the station's sound or heritage acts which are still active and producing new music.
  • The format has been analyzed by academics as an effort by critics, media, and music establishments to canonize rock music and commodify 1960s Western culture for audiences living in a post-baby boomer economy.
  • Classic rock radio programmers play "tried and proven" hit songs from the past based on their "high listener recognition and identification".
  • Classic rock songs are generally performed by white male acts from either the United States or the United Kingdom, "have a four-four time, very rarely exceed the time limit of four minutes, were composed by the musicians themselves, are sung in English, played by a 'classical' rock formation (drums, bass, guitar, keyboard instruments) and were released on a major label after 1964."
  • Classic rock has been associated with the album era (1960s–2000s), by writers Bob Lefsetz and Matthew Restall, who says the term is a relabeling of the "virtuoso pop/rock" from the era's early decades.
  • Some of the artists that are featured heavily on classic rock radio are The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Supertramp, Quiet Riot, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Boston, The Cars, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Elton John, Eric Clapton, The Who, Van Halen, Rush, Black Sabbath, U2, Guns N’ Roses, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles, the Doors, Styx, Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix.
  • Classic rock radio has been criticized for being regressive and abandoning ironic sensibilities in favor of unintellectual, conventional aesthetics rooted in Victorian era Romanticism, while downplaying the more radical aspects of 1960s counterculture, such as politics, race, African-American music, and pop in the art sense.
  • Classic rock radio is regarded as heavily gendered, celebrating "a male homosocial paradigm of musicianship" that "continued to dominate subsequent discourse, not just around rock music, but of popular music more generally."
  • The rise of classic-rock radio is partly attributed to "the consumer power of the aging post-war 'baby boomers' and the appeal of this group to radio advertisers".


How much do you know about the classic rock radio format in the US? Test your knowledge with our quiz! From the origins of the format to the artists frequently played on these stations, this quiz covers it all. Find out if you're a true classic rock aficionado or if you still have more to learn about this popular radio format.

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