The Book of Jack

This story originally ran on Edison Research’s InfiniteDial.com on Dec. 8, 2006. The AM station in question (later KXGM) went silent in late 2009.

This has always been a dangerous thing to admit to in a room full of people, but at age 44, I have much greater emotional ties to the corporate rock of the late ’70s and early ’80s, the era that began with Boston and ended when contemporary rock was upstaged by the Top 40 resurgence of 1983-84. In my iPod, there are 10 songs by Pat Benatar, six by Billy Squier, and only two by Led Zeppelin. I know how most of you are going to respond to this, and I’m okay with that.

So one of the great things about the ascent of Bob- and Jack-FM, particularly in its early Canadian era (2002-03) was the realization that I wasn’t alone: there was a new generation of Classic Rock listener that cared about early ’80s rock and late ’80s hair bands and cared less about Jethro Tull or early Pink Floyd. Unlike the early Canadian listeners, I also had the joy of discovery. Canada did Classic Rock right in the ’70s and ’80s, and I was always happy to discover another Prism or April Wine song that hadn’t made it down to the States.

I’m having the same reaction now to the new  KWOF (850 the Prodigal) Waterloo, Iowa, which launched a Classic Christian Rock format in October, with core acts that include Petra, White Heart, Keith Green, and DeGarmo & Key. Having heard only a little of that music during its mid-’80s heyday, when Contemporary Christian was much less available on the radio than it is now, I remember thinking that it sounded several years behind the curve of secular music. At a 20 years remove, however, hearing that music again (and more like it) is like discovering a Christian Jack FM–melodic rock with a similar appeal as Jack- and Bob-FM and some of the energy not always found on today’s Christian AC.

KWOF is streaming. It was also the subject of a profile in yesterday’s Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier.

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Sean Ross is author of the Ross on Radio newsletter and VP of music and programming of Edison Research.

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