Connecticut Staind And Soundgarden Fans Rejoice As Alt-Rock Radio Stages (Kinda) Triumphant Comeback

Oct 31st, 2007 // 15 Comments

clash.jpgAfter an early-’00s format flip to hip-hop that mirrored former alt-rock radio strongholds around the country switching to urban, country, or Latin programming, WPHH-FM in Connecticut has brought back the Pearl Jam two-fers, because “Hartford has long been well served with Top 40 and adult-contemporary stations but hasn’t had an alternative-rock option” for four years. Coolfer rightly notes that it’s tough to gauge whether this is indeed a trend, but as industry types worriedly watch hip-hop sales figures decline, certain stations around the country are slowly re-embracing modern rock. So while this might be a small part of a potentially larger story, one aspect of the WPHH-FM format change did give us pause.

The change happened with little fanfare last Thursday after comedian Steve Harvey’s nationally syndicated show wrapped for the morning. The station went to a commercial break, returning with the song that would trumpet its new direction: The Clash’s “This Is Radio Clash.”

C’mon, it’s a least little ironic that a Clash song–and one of the funkiest Clash songs to boot–was used to herald a radio station’s shift away from African-American music and back to pasty alt-rock. You know, given all the hubub about a certain recent New Yorker essay.

Alternative Rock Radio Returns To Airwaves [ via Coolfer]


  1. TriedandTrue

    I am going to call BS on this as far as this is for the listeners, at least directly. With the new Arbitron monitoring system rolling out, programmers are learning that urban stations are not doing as well as everyone thought and classic/alternative formats are better than previously thought. Stations all across the US are going to jump like lemmings in 2008 as more cities are converted to the new Arbitron system.

  2. Al Shipley

    Might not be as ironic as you think, based on this part:

    [i]A collage of artist pictures on the station’s new website,, gives a flavor of what listeners can expect: Beck, U2, Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, the White Stripes, Bob Marley.[/i]

    That’s three acts that rap at least some of the time, one blues band, and Bob Marley, leaving U2 as the only act in there that would probably get a failing grade on the SFJ scorecard (and even then, just maybe).

  3. Jess Harvell

    @GovernmentNames: We all love Rattle and Hum, but calling U2 a “blues band” is kinda pushing it, Al.

  4. LAKingsin2009

    @jessdolator: I think WS is the blues band.

  5. BigRicks

    While I never listen to the radio here in CT, with my car in the shop I borrowed my old man’s pickup truck and was flipping through the stations last Thursday and noticed 104.1 was back.

    While my music tastes have changed since I used to listen to the station, I must say that it’s good to have something passable on the radio again, even if it means hearing “Interstate Love Song” everytime I tune in.

  6. Jess Harvell

    @LAKingsin2008: Sigh.

  7. King of Pants

    I’m sorry, did I miss the part where all those Jack/Mike/WACKY IPOD STATIONS decided to stop playing “Black Hole Sun” every fucking second of the day?

  8. Al Shipley


  9. Fried Bologna Is Back!

    @GovernmentNames: Yes, but do their bassists feature syncopated patterns, or linger in the low registers? For these are the true measures of negritude.

  10. Chris Molanphy

    This is all well and good, I guess, but isn’t this just — excuse my poor choice of words — shifting from one ghetto to another? If a station switched from Hot A/C or country to alt-rock, then that would be jaw-dropper. As it is, a hip-hop station switching back to modern is a little like an arthouse movie theater deciding to go all-foreign films.

  11. Anonymous

    Your reference is too highbrow.
    This is more like a XXX theater switching from straight porn to gay porn.

  12. joshservo

    I grew up in Hartford in the 1980′s, when all the radio had to offer was Steve Miller, Billy Joel, Stacey Q, and Dr. Demento. Almost anything is an improvement over that.

    Frankly, I’m happy to see Hartford included in a news story that doesn’t involve the phrase, “And then he turned the gun on himself,” or the word, “Insurance.”

  13. space race ace

    I grew up in the Hartford area in the 90s and the old alt-rock station (radio104) was alternative, edgy, etc. Important for a young kid to hear his first Pixies, Pavement, you know? So while it looks right now to be wallowing in its own glory daze, if it actually gets its shit together and embraces new, underground alt-rock, they might have something.

    Incidentally, they first went to alt-rock in 1993-4 from an Easy Listening station (Magic 104 I think? Why are all EZ stations called “Magic”) to alt-rock. Now THAT’S a shocking switch.

  14. Anonymous

    @space race ace: If you consider deep cuts from the first Alice In Chains record “underground alt-rock” then we have a winner.

  15. space race ace

    @Fort_Nathan_Hale: is that what they’re playing now? whatever. You all realize that this is the beginning of the long slow march to the next generation of oldies stations, don’t you?

    BTW, what’s with modern rock radio ALWAYS including Bob Marley? No other reggae artist, just Bob. Oh yeah, the white kids who are “really into” reggae.

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