In 2008, the Manila Broadcasting Company acquired the 96.3 frequency and renamed it Easy Rock. Though it shares a similar format as its previous incarnation W-Rock, it increasingly started to add songs from the Hot AC category that sister stations Yes! FM and Love Radio use. (Logo courtesy of Manila Broadcasting Company)
Before the Manila Broadcasting Company acquired the 96.3 frequency in Metro Manila, 96.3 W-Rock was the station of choice for a majority of the white collar, upper class audience. The format is basic and straight-forward, consisting of a combination of classic and modern hits from the Adult Contemporary and soft rock formats. On Fridays, older listeners tune in to Friday Classics, featuring hits from the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. At 8 am and 8 pm, ballads and mid-tempo singles gave way to dance tracks, courtesy of the program Past Dance. And at 3:30 pm, listeners enjoy three straight songs from the same artist or band, known as Three of a Kind. In 2008 however, a change of ownership and style was about to unfold.
That year, ACWS-United Broadcasting Network sold the 96.3 frequency to the Manila Broadcasting Company. Subsequently the W-Rock name was dropped and MBC adopted the station name Easy Rock on the said frequency. W-Rock was briefly revived as an online station before it closed shop two years later. At first, Easy Rock featured almost the same playlist as its predecessor, along with a ‘less talk, more music’ feel, but for the past few years, they deemphasized up-and-coming and current AC hits in favor of older songs, some of which go as far as the 1970s. In addition, on-air jocks were also being used in an effort to widen their audience. This ‘change’ made me wonder if Easy Rock had turned into a ‘pang-masa’ station.
Listening to Easy Rock lately has been unbearable. They added songs that are more for the masses than for the upper class. To think that Easy Rock is a lite rock station is both an insult and a disgrace. MBC, who built 101.1 Yes! FM and 90.7 Love Radio to the top of the Philippine radio hierarchy, seem to influence the evolving playlist of Easy Rock. They managed to relegate some of current and modern AC songs in favor of power ballads such as those from Nazareth, Scorpions and Air Supply. Such a change made me realize that Easy Rock is becoming a more manipulated clone of MBC’s two other stations, albeit in a softer format.
In contrast, W-Rock features only a playlist aimed for A, B and C social classes. The latter is also well-polished, sweet and pleasant to listen to. In fact, back in my youth, I grew up listening to W-Rock because of its ‘less talk, more music’ feel, which means that music is the star of the station rather than the on-air personality. W-Rock’s playlist is also incomparable. You can listen to a pop ballad by a 90s boyband such as the Backstreet Boys first, then follow it up with a classic hit single from either the 80s or the late 70s, and so on. And they feature none of the excesses aimed at the masses. So when it comes to the best combination of the classic and modern Adult Contemporary playlist, W-Rock is the best.
To this day, I continue to despise Easy Rock for its adoption of a softer, older and less controversial playlist from its sister stations at MBC. And even with W-Rock already faded into history, it remains an influential station for listeners who still enjoy its playlist and approach.