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Album-oriented rock

The meaning of «album-oriented rock»

Album-oriented rock (AOR, originally called album-oriented radio), is an FM radio format created in the United States in the 1970s that focused on the full repertoire of rock albums and is currently associated with classic rock.[1][2]

Originally, album-oriented radio was established by US radio stations dedicated to playing album tracks by rock artists from the hard rock to progressive rock genres which in the mid-1970s were characterized by a layered, mellifluous sound and sophisticated production with considerable dependence on melodic hooks. Using research and formal programming to create an album rock format with greater commercial appeal, the AOR format achieved tremendous popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

From the early 1980s onwards, the album-oriented radio term became normally used as the abbreviation of "Album-oriented rock", meaning radio stations specialized in classic rock recorded during the late 1960s and 1970s.[3]

The term is also commonly conflated with "adult-oriented rock", a radio format which also uses the acronym AOR and covers not only album-oriented rock, but also album tracks and "deep cuts" from a range of other rock genres, such as soft rock and pop rock.

The roots of the album-oriented rock radio format began with programming concepts rooted in 1960s idealism. The freeform and progressive formats developed the repertoire and set the tone that would dominate AOR playlists for much of its heyday.

In July 1964, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a non-duplication rule prohibiting FM radio stations from merely running a simulcast of the programming from their AM counterparts. Owners of AM/FM affiliate stations fought these new regulations vigorously, delaying enactment of the new rules until January 1, 1967.[4] When finally enacted, station owners were pressed to come up with alternative programming options.

The freeform format in commercial radio was born out of the desire to program the FM airwaves inexpensively. Programmers like Tom Donahue at KMPX in San Francisco developed stations where DJs had freedom to play long sets of music, often covering a variety of genres. Songs were not limited to hits or singles; indeed the DJs often played obscure or longer tracks by newer or more adventurous artists than heard on Top 40 stations of the day. This reflected the growth of albums as opposed to singles as rock's main artistic vehicle for expression in the 1960s and 1970s.

With a few exceptions, commercial freeform had a relatively brief life. With more and more listeners acquiring FM radios, the stakes became higher for stations to attract market share so that they could sell more advertising at a higher rate.

By 1970 many of the stations were moving to institute programming rules with a "clock" and system of "rotation". With this shift, stations' formats in the early 1970s were now billed as progressive. DJs still had much input over the music they played, and the selection was deep and eclectic, ranging from folk to hard rock with other styles such as jazz fusion occasionally thrown in.

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