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by Alex Cosper

KWOD 106.5 in Sacramento helped pioneer the alternative radio format in the early nineties. I have written this compilation of notes based on my experience as Program Director and Midday Air Personality at the station. I worked at KWOD in the eighties when it was top 40 and in the nineties when it switched to alternative rock. The reason this is a significant story is that KWOD was an independent station going up against much bigger companies, yet KWOD still managed to beat all of its competitors in the ratings. It was a very special station bonding with the community. The great line-up of interesting people and amazing diverse music flow made it the leading rocker in Sacramento in the mid-nineties.

Alternative Rock was a radio format on the rise throughout the nineties, following the blossoming of Modern Rock in the eighties. Although the format's ratings would eventually crumble the following decade, Alternative Rock had a nice run for many years as the most innovative music on commercial radio. At KWOD my job as Program Director was to oversee the air staff, the music and pretty much everything that went out over the air. I allowed all the personalities to be themselves instead of sounding tightly-scripted, which was how the rest of the dial sounded. KWOD sounded more human than machine.

This is the story not just of one station where I worked but of several Alternative radio stations all over America, back when radio was a big part of people's lives.

Read the Rise of Alternative Radio at Playlist Research.