After the death of their terrestrial radio home, WPLY (Y100)/Philly staffers set up shop on the Web at Y100Rocks.com with a less restrictive, commercial-free version of the radio station. An online petition was posted, urging the corporate radio gods to heed the call for the return of Modern Rock to the Philadelphia airwaves. Over 60,000 people have signed the petition since February 24. The site has racked up one million page views and over 500,000 unique visits in the same span of time, and local advertisers have taken notice.
Y100, Radio One's most profitable Philadelphia property before its extermination, was a consistent money maker and had spent the better part of 12 years branding itself as Philly's New Rock outlet in admirable fashion. Under the guidance of PD Jim McGuinn, the station had morphed from a Pop/Alternative station to a straight-up Modern Rocker, successfully surfing the ebb and flow of Alternative's most viable musical trends.
With all of that prestige in mind, combined with the massive amount of support and press Y100Rocks.com has generated over the last month, local concert promoters Electric Factory Concerts have lent their ad support on the Web site, and the on-line station has nailed down "presents" on upcoming shows by Sum 41, The Killers and The Mars Volta. Canadian band Hot Hot Heat hosted a takeover of the station the afternoon of their Philadelphia show on March 3, and former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon is set to do the same next Tuesday.
Over $5,000 dollars have been generated in banner ads in mere weeks, and local and national advertisers have begun lining up to hawk their wares. Y100Rocks.com merchandise has also taken off, with over $8,500 in sales.
So where is all this heading? Is the Internet a possible alternative to broadcasting terrestrially in the wake of knee-jerk/gun-shy reactions by corporate radio suits? With poor Arbitron returns and lamenting national press coverage proclaiming the "death of Rock," is such a grassroots Web movement a resonant way to tell The Man to chill out, we're here en mass, and we want our Alt back on the dial? Possibly. Perhaps there's room for both stations to exist simultaneously, each empowering the other.
As for the "death of Rock," we're here to say that's complete overblown nonsense. Music is cyclical, and we're just now entering a huge upswing of releases by major acts that won't be letting up until well into the first quarter of 2006. With any luck, the suits will see the forest for the trees, pay closer attention to more organic and tangible cume figures like that of Y100Rocks.com, and give Modern Rock listeners in a Top Ten market a permanent place on the radio dial.