(Image taken from their Friendster page)
This is an ode to the Philippines’ original Lite Rock Radio, and to its 20 years of its brand of entertainment that is truly unparalleled, which is slowly being pulled the plug on what it’s best known for after it being sold to the Manila Broadcasting Company group of the Elizalde family. I just thought now is the perfect time to write about it, as it would seem the 96.3 WRocK that we know of, grew up with and loved is no more.
I am proud to say that the station has been part of my life as well, somethimes as my primary preferred radio station and sometimes my alternative even with the surge of mp3 media. The station also has been my personal refuge especially in my senti moments, those times when I felt so low, and whenever I wanted to end the day quickly. They played a unique brand of lite rock — lite rock tunes which is coupled with easy listening tunes which became a perfect mix for one’s life moment. And it even became a hit because of name recall. Why? It’s because of their no-frills cutting-edge programming formula which crossed all demographics, from the affluent to the masa, especially with their segments such as Celebrity Minute, Lite Rock Exclusives, Three Of A Kind, Fast Dance, and best of all the Lite Rock Favorites of the Week which features advices on mostly love and life, as well as the most-played and most-requested tunes, and has further endeared the station to the public, even to what I consider its dying days.
However, on October 8, 2008, news broke out that the MBC group (I’ll go out on a limb here that I will not refer to this as being directly owned by MBC the company, since it will violate rules on ownership of radio entities) purchased WRocK, which raised fears among posters and listeners on the PinoyExchange thread that another rebrand and format tweak is in the offing, in the light of this radio reformat/frenzy this year alone. Weeks later, everyone’s fears slowly materialized, although I didn’t see it coming that soon, what more with corporate disclosure stuff and clearances and the like.
All of a sudden I thought about this: Will 96.3 WRocK become another 99.5 RT, a mere shell of its former self after the purchase? I did the syllogism on 99.5 RT because 99.5 RT of the 80’s and 90’s was at its best when it was still owned by the Tuasons and it was at that time that it endeared itself to the fans with its excellent jocks, first crack on future hits, and unparalleled programming. The atmosphere changed when the Quest Broadcasting Inc. group purchased it in 1996 and at first retained the brand of music however in line with the new owners’ directive, they slowly changed the format to help complement its new big sister (Magic), something they have done to the present (despite an attempt at a brand change earlier this year).
This is exactly the same that’s happening to 96.3 WRocK. The day after Paul and Cherry aired LRFW’s final episode on October 26, the MBC group-installed management implemented programming changes, although slight at first. The old guards — Lianne, Dylan, and of course Paul and Cherry (who could deny that the two endeared themselves to the listeners more although I admit I am not a regular fistener of LRFW) have not even said goodbye to their listeners; they simply went away after the end of last week (October 26). Programming and segments identified with WRock under ACWS-UBN have been scrapped, they just play all-day music and some liners by a their new on-air personalities Samantha (found out that she is a TH version of Lianne) and Denise. The top of the hour apparently lost its place, something similar to what big sister Love is doing where the TOH is not consistently heard. More old tunes made its was on the waves, scarcely some (yet) masa songs being played by two of 96.3’s new corporate sisters (the flagship 90.7 Love Radio and the automated 101.1 Yes FM) were also heard (to my shock, the last one was that Ronnie Liang mixed Tagalog/Kapampangan song, Ngiti/Ayli, yesterday early morning); a sharp departure from what they were doing merely last week or even during its 20-year existence.
On their live stream website which also went pffffft, someone who apparently is connected with WRocK’s former owners posted a thank-you message, which I read between the lines as “goodbye and thank you listeners, but it’s not over, we’ll meet again once more soon”:
“Hi, WRocK Listeners! First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for all the appreciation you have given to 96.3 WRocK. We are overwhelmed by your messages and efforts to express your support. For believing in our music, in our programs, in our WRocK Jocks, in our vision of offering inspiration through one fine radio station, thank you. However, as change is inevitable, 96.3 WRocK Manila is now under the able management of Manila Broadcasting Company, the successful radio network behind Love Radio, Yes! FM and DZRH. So, very soon, we can no longer stream 96.3 WRocK through this site. Nevertheless, we, at ACWS-United Broadcasting Network, are currently working on still bringing you the music, entertainment and service you have loved about WRocK through this site, www.hayag.com/wrock and www.wrock.fm .PLEASE GIVE US SOME TIME TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN. We assure you we’ll be worth the wait and it won’t be long. Again, thank you. And, we love you back”
This being said, 96.3 WRocK under ACWS-UBN will be so lovingly remembered and dearly missed, and no other incarnation or new owner will match that, with everything that has happened, even if the new management will still use the same brand or retain most of the kind of music that they play. I can further say nothing but the best of luck to the MBC group in running “96.3 WRocK”*.
96.3 WRocK under ACWS-UBN is irreplaceable, beyond reproach.
Thanks for the memories. I’ll miss hearing this station top of the hour that distinctively identified themselves:
“The Philippines’ Original Lite Rock Radio
Metro Manila’s 96.3 WRocK!”