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Active rock is a radio format used by many commercial radio stations across the United States and Canada. Active rock stations play a mix of newer and harder rock songs with valued classic rock song favorites, normally with an emphasis of Mainstream Rock or Album Oriented Rock on the Modern age hard rock end of the spectrum.
An active rock station may include songs by classic hard rock artists whereas an alternative rock station would not (e.g., AC/DC, Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen). Additionally, an active rock station also plays music by hard rock and heavy metal artists from the 1990s through today, which are often absent from alternative rock or classic rock radio playlists. These artists tend to be the main focus of the format (e.g., Shinedown, Seether, Nothing More, Chevelle, Korn, Five Finger Death Punch, Pantera, Puddle Of Mudd, Sevendust, Disturbed, Pretty Reckless, Volbeat, Halestorm, Papa Roach, Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, Linkin Park, Pop Evil, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam). Some artists which are played by Alternative stations also receive heavy airplay on Active Rock stations, such as Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Offspring, Bush alongside with newer and recently known bands like Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots, Silversun Pickups, Rise Against, but not as frequently in rotation, some Active Rock stations may be able to play alternative Metal bands like Breaking Benjamin, Mudvayne more so than the usual, by the radio company incorporating their marketed airplay.
A pioneering station of this format in the late 1980s was WIYY "98Rock" in Baltimore, Maryland. Other early adopters of this format by the beginning of the 1990s include stations WIIL "95 WIIL Rock" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, KISS-FM "99.5 KISS Rocks" in San Antonio, Texas, WLZX-FM "Lazer 99.3" in Northampton, Massachusetts, WXTB "98Rock" in Tampa, Florida, KRZN "96.3 The Zone" in Billings, Montana, KEGL-FM "97.1 The Eagle", in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and WJJO "Solid Rock 94.1 JJO" Madison, Wisconsin. Satellite radio channels include Sirius XM Radio's Octane, and the gold-based Ozzy's Boneyard channel, also on Sirius XM Radio. Former counterparts prior to the November 12, 2008 Sirius/XM channel merger were XM's Squizz and Sirius's BuzzSaw. Australian radio network Triple M also uses this format.
Active rock stations in Canada also include CFPL-FM in London, Ontario, CJAY-FM in Calgary, Alberta, CFBR-FM in Edmonton, Alberta, CFGP-FM in Grande Prairie, Alberta, CHTZ-FM in St. Catharines, Ontario, CJKR-FM in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CFXY-FM in Fredericton, New Brunswick and CHKS-FM in Sarnia, Ontario.
- Classic rock – some tracks heard on most classic rock stations will rotate and play harder songs depending on popularity especially tracks dating the 1990s. anything 2000s based will be more on mainstream rock radio
- Mainstream rock – similar to active rock, it is a mix of classic rock and new rock, though it tends to feature a higher proportion of classic rock tracks
- Alternative rock – Alternative rock primarily focuses on new indie rock artists, some emo and pop punk artists and some tracks heard on active rock will also appear in the alternative rock format, (it is more commonly infrequent to hear active rock artists)
- "The State of Rock Radio – Part One". RadioInfo, August 19, 2012.
- Toby Eddings, "Active rock finds an Asylum at 93.5," The Sun News, Feb. 7, 1999.