The Spirit of Rockline

My Personal History with Rockline & Modern Rock Live

Hello, I'm Dr. Chuck. I am a microscopic footnote in the whole history of rock 'n' roll. However, before I can get into that, a little radio history is in order.

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Rockline was a live, call-in radio show, where the audience could talk to rock artists over the telephone. It started in 1981, on Monday nights at 8:30pm Pacific (11:30pm Eastern), and ran for over 33 years. The guest list read like a book of "Who's Who in Rock 'n' Roll." There were legends like George Harrison, Pete Townshend, and Rush. Also, there were metal gods, like Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, and Metallica. As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, newcomers were featured, like The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, and Foo Fighters. In 1999, the show split into two nights, Monday and Wednesday, with the Monday show featuring mostly newer artists for "active rock" radio, and the Wednesday show with "classic rock" artists.

The show originated from Los Angeles, and was heard locally on 95.5 KLOS. The first host was B. Mitchel Reed, and his first guest was Joe Walsh. After six months, B. Mitchel Reed left the show (on March 16, 1983, he died due to a lingering heart condition). Bob Coburn (also known as "B.C.") then became the host, and his first guest was Rod Stewart. Bob Coburn held that position until the early 1990s. Following his departure, there were three other hosts over the next several years: Steve Downes, Beau Rials, and Riki Rachtman. On March 10, 1997, Bob Coburn returned to hosting duties, and eventually became the owner of the program in 2003. The show ceased broadcasting in December 2014. Bob Coburn died on December 17, 2016, after a long battle with lung cancer.

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Modern Rock Live was another live, call-in radio show. It featured artists of the alternative/modern rock genre, and coincided with the rise of the alternative nation in the 1990s. The show was created in 1991, hot on the heels of the breakthrough of Nirvana (who were on the show in early 1992). There were guests who were alt-rock pioneers in the 1980s, like Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, and Morrissey. Of course, there were also many newer artists, including Green Day, Weezer, and Alanis Morissette.

One of its first affiliates was 92.7 WDRE in Garden City, New York. From 1982 to 1987, they were known as WLIR, one of the forerunners of alternative and modern rock radio (and a station I gravitated towards to get away from crappy Top 40 radio). In December 1987, they turned into WDRE, and kept the music format in place.

Originally, Modern Rock Live was a 60 minute show, broadcast live on Monday nights at 11pm Eastern (8pm Pacific), hosted by Tom Calderone of WDRE. In 1994, it was purchased by Global Satellite Network, the parent company of Rockline, and moved to Tuesday nights. In 1995, it expanded to a 90 minute show on Sunday nights with a start time of 10:30pm Eastern (7:30pm Pacific). After Tom Calderone started working for VH1 in 1998, Max Tolkoff took over hosting duties, and would remain there until the show's final broadcast in November 2000.

Got all that? Good.