Z Rock

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Z Rock
Type Radio network
Country United States
Availability National
Owner ABC Radio Networks
(through Capital Cities Communications; trademark currently owned by Cumulus Media)
Launch date
September 1, 1986
Dissolved December 31, 1996

Z-Rock was a nationally syndicated radio network based out of Dallas, Texas, USA, in the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s that played heavy metal and hard rock music. The format was one of ABC Radio Network's (now Cumulus Media Networks') 24-hour satellite formats (formerly Satellite Music Network). Z-Rock debuted on Labor Day 1986 and is credited[by whom?] with being the first nationally focused radio station/network.[citation needed] In March 1990, Z Rock was nominated for Billboard Awards, the only full-time hard rock/metal programming ever nominated in the history of Billboard magazine.[citation needed] After several changes in personnel and programming direction, the network was discontinued on December 31, 1996. During its early days the station drew attention for playing unedited, explicit versions of songs. The station also gained notoriety in the DFW area for their "mascot" vehicle, "the Z Rock hearse", which was displayed at various events and locations around the DFW Metroplex. The vehicle ultimately was awarded to a lucky winner in a promotional givaway. Dennis C. Weaver of Dallas drew the "lucky key" in a drawing held at Sound Climax, a Dallas car audio store which had outfitted the vehicle with stereo gear to showcase their products.

File:Original zrock.png
Original Z-Rock Logo


Program Details
Blistering Leads Program focused on guitar breaks and heroes.
Mandatory Metallica Premiered in November 1986, was the original Metallica feature copied by stations nationwide.[citation needed] "The Mighty Met" was a similar program that played a half-hour to an hour of Metallica songs (perhaps the most popular band on the network) and aired Saturday nights.[citation needed]
Nationwide Mid-day Requests A daily all request show.
Z-Rock 5 Nightly countdown of the top five requested songs of the day. Prizes awarded to callers who could recite back the top five songs in the order that they were played.
Z-Rock 50 Weekly countdown of the network's top rock tracks aired Sunday nights.
Z-Rock 1000 End-of-the-year countdown of the all-time greatest rock songs with songs from the previous year included.
Headbanger's Heaven Program featuring heavy metal including demos and imports hosted by Crazy Mike Paine. Featured thrash, speed, death, and power metal genres as well as several world premieres, contests, and interviews.
Coast to Coast Concert Series Over 50 live broadcast concerts featuring many of the genre's top names, including Metallica.
Wounded Radio Sunday night show featuring heavier rock music hosted by Sharkmann.
US240 Saturday night all-request show spanning 240 minutes (4 hours) Originally hosted by Sharkmann.
Nightly Nuke Weeknight feature where listeners called in and voted on the most despised Top 40 song of the day (usually a contemporary pop song). After the votes were totaled, the winning song would be played with unflattering soundbytes mixed throughout it. After roughly a minute, a loud explosion sound would be played, essentially destroying or "nuking" the song.
Back-Rockwards Nightly phone-in contest to guess identity of backwards played song (song was played in its entirety with random noises played over it).
Fast Forward Similar to Back-Rockwards, but with the song played forwards at about 10 times the speed.
Bad-Ass CD Side Weekly playing of half of an entire CD. Was notably promoted by saying, "Bad-ass CD half, is grammatically correct, but 'Bad-Ass CD Side' Sounds Cooler!"
Too Much Program held one Saturday a month that would give about four hours playing songs from a select artist. Eventually "Too much" would become a daily mid-day show with one hour of music from any artist sometimes featuring deep album cuts.
Old Stuff for an Hour Sunday morning classic rock show. Hosted by Crankin Craig.
New Stuff for an Hour Hosted by Crankin Craig, this show featured new music.
Your Stuff for an Hour (later Two Hours) Hosted by Crankin, as an all request show.
Z-Rock RIP News News bits presented in conjunction with RIP Magazine.
Z-Rock news Commentary and opinions originally hosted by Boobie Bondage and heard in each daypart. The news went through several names and hosts: The Dirt (w/Steve Show), The Mud (w/Michelle), The Sludge with Sharkmann, The Drudge (not related to the internet news site) and just The News (both w/Loud Debi Dowd).

From 1989-1991 the network also produced Z-Rock Magazine, available free in network affiliate cities.

The opening bumper for commercial breaks was an 8-note guitar riff from the first part of the song "House of 1,000 Pleasures" by Japanese band Ezo.

Slogans used for Z-Rock's imaging and promotions included "If it's too loud, you're too old!", "Flip us on and flip them off", "We don't brake for wimps" and "If you're not crankin' it, you must be yankin' it!" and "Lock it in, and rip your knob off". It also used to mock classic rock programming, then say "Who cares?! Z-Rock RULES!"

Marketed nationally for local broadcast with local commercials inserted, Z-Rock's market penetration across the country varied considerably. While the local broadcasts were usually FM, in some areas the station was carried by small AM outlets. Some publicity was provided for several years by the comic strip Funky Winkerbean, in which one of the main characters often wore a Z-Rock t-shirt.[citation needed]


When the Z-Rock radio network was shut down by the end of 1996, affiliates were free to adopt the Z-Rock name and/or imaging.[citation needed] Some of them are still using it today:

Cumulus Media, the successor to ABC's radio operations, owns the Z Rock trademark today, using it as a moniker for the above-mentioned WXZZ in order to keep the trademark active.[1]

Tracy Barnes and Scorchin' Scotty went on to found HardRadio.

Former Z-Rock DJ's, Madd Maxx Hammer and Jason Lee Tipton, are currently on KDKT.US, a digital hard rock radio station.

A fully moderated, 24-hour modern rock radio stream is still being produced for the Armed Forces Network (AFN) and is available on the digital AFN satellite lineup (with AFN Uninterruptable Voice the only unencrypted offering on the European AFN Hot Bird transponder).[2]

The weekly, four-hour modern rock chart program Z-Rock 50 was part of AFN The Eagle (Sundays 5pm - 9pm CET) andcould be heard in many locations throughout Europe and the Middle East. It was taken off the air in Spring 2009.[3] The program is also available to other broadcasters worldwide from ABC Radio Networks International[4] (now Citadel Media Networks).

Citadel Media in 2010 started up a new satellite Active Rock service called "The Nerve." Unlike traditional rock stations and networks, The Nerve personalities are rock music core listeners who happen to be on the radio, instead of the DJs themselves.


  1. "KZTI Reno Renames Itself 105.3 Rock Hard" from Radio Insight (October 9, 2015)
  2. myAFN Radio Station: Z Rock
  3. AFN Europe survey 2009
  4. CitadelMediaNetworks.com