A few months back, Heath Bilbrey made waves in Houston by resurrecting the KLOL brand and format with an online radio station. This week Rocks Off has learned that he has also brought back Z Rock 106.9 KKZR from the radio cemetery with the same treatment.
"We plan to follow the same formula we are using at Rock 101 KLOL. Listener supported and commercial free," says Bilbrey in an email.
I just tuned in online just in time to hear Metallica's "One." Not bad. Two songs later, Slayer's "God Hates Us All" came up. Pantera, Anthrax, Megadeth, Overkill, Suicidal Tendencies, King Diamond, and Mercyful Fate also grace the online playlist.
Older Houstonians will remember Z Rock as one of the last hard rock stations in town. Debuting in 1986, Houston's Z Rock was a part of a nationally-syndicated satellite-fed radio network focusing on metal and hard rock, and was actually on the dial at 1070 AM as the sister station to 104.1 KRBE on the FM side.
"To me, those were the glory days of Z Rock. Unfortunately it was on a crappy AM signal in Houston that cut its power when the sun went down," says Jarod Frank, a DJ on the old 107.5 The Buzz from 1995 to 1999. He currently works for CBS Radio Houston.
"I remember sitting on the top bunk of my bunk beds with enormous gobs of tin foil on my radio's antenna trying to pick up the live Metallica ...And Justice For All show that they were running," he adds.
"Z Rock dog tags were a sign of your loyalty to them."
The station changed formats in March 1995 and became KKHT "106.9 The Word" -- playing contemporary Christian -- before changing over to "106.9 The Point" and playing all-'80s hits, then more modern rock, before trying to become a '90s-rock station exclusively, not unlike the Buzz.
Last summer, the station gave up the ghost altogether and began simulcasting with 107.5 The Eagle, expanding that station's classic-rock imprint all over Houston.
The network instituted Mandatory Metallica, had tons of request shows, and a program called "Too Much," which featured giant blocks of music from a particular artist. Mostly what I remember about Houston's Z Rock was not picking it up on my first Walkman.
If you just visited the new Z Rock site and find it closed, never fear.
"The Z Rock website is closed while we develop it, but you can still listen live 24/7 by clicking the 'Listen Live' links provided at the top of the page," says Bilbrey.
Once the site will be totally complete, there will be an automated request system for listeners to search for a desired track in the station's library, then request it by just a click of a button.
"As long as it has not recently been played, or the same artist within a certain time, it is automatically added to the playlist," adds Bilbrey.
Bilbrey notes that in the mobile markets, both Z Rock and Rock 101 KLOL will have iPhone and Android apps very soon.
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Lock it in, and rip off the knob.