The Future of Rock & Roll talks about the evolution of radio station 97X WOXY – which at its inception was the sixth modern rock station in the United States, based in Ohio. The station tried to buck the trends and be independent – which at first meant avoiding repetition and playing new and more things unlike other stations (it seems like not much has changed since late 80s!). It was very interesting to read how the media changed and how this station changed with it – even having a streaming option for their broadcasts in the early ’00s when that was relatively unheard of. Unfortunately, the changes ended up being too much for WOXY to keep up with and they are no longer.
But definitely made me think what independence is and what it means to me.
I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.
About the Book
In 1983, an Ohio radio station called WOXY launched a sonic disruption to both corporate rock and to its conservative home region, programming an omnivorous range of genres and artists while being staunchly committed to local independent art and media. In the 1990s, as alternative rock went mainstream and radio grew increasingly homogeneous, WOXY gained international renown as one of Rolling Stone‘s “Last Great Independent Radio” stations. The station projected a philosophy that prioritized such independence—the idea that truly progressive, transgressive, futuristic disruptions of the status quo were possible only when practiced with and for other people.
In The Future of Rock and Roll, philosopher Robin James uses WOXY’s story to argue against a corporate vision of independence—in which everyone fends for themselves—and in favor of an alternative way of thinking and relating to one another that disrupts norms but is nevertheless supported by communities. Against the standard retelling of the history of “modern rock,” James looks to the local scenes that made true independence possible by freeing individual artists from the whims of the boardroom. This philosophy of community-rooted independence offers both a counternarrative to the orthodox history of indie rock and an alternative worldview to that of the current corporate mainstream.
Robin James is a writer, editor, and philosopher. She is author of four books including Resilience & Melancholy and The Sonic Episteme.