Robin JamesJun 7, 2023
The Future of Rock and Roll
97X WOXY and the Fight for True Independence
University of North Carolina Press 2023
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: 97X WOXY and the Fight for True Independence (UNC Press, 2023), 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 the author of four books including Resilience & Melancholy and The Sonic Episteme. Robin on Twitter.
Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.