No drugs or alcohol, just rock ‘n’ roll

Throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, the phrase “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” was a common mantra among young music fans and artists.


But in the 21st century, at least two of that cliche’s elements are well known to contribute to the destruction of lives and families, making the longtime exhortation less of a declaration of lifestyle and more of a warning of the potential pitfalls.

An Ohio radio station, WAPS-FM, recently introduced Rock and Recovery, a high-definition Internet radio station that is offering a few decades’ worth of rock, along with adult album alternative tracks and a dash of Bob Marley — but minus the drugs and alcohol references, and interspersed with positive messages, affirmations and testimonials designed to help music lovers who are in the midst of recovery.

Garrett Hart, creative content director for Rock and Recovery, said the station doesn’t simply cut out songs and artists that mention drugs and alcohol.

“It’s really a texture and tone we’re going for that is positive and is free of those kind of references that would be disruptive or distraction to someone who is really just trying to concentrate on getting through their day and making the most of it,” said Hart, a 35-year veteran of the radio industry. “So there will be Eric Clapton but it [will be] the recovery Eric Clapton, there is Joe Cocker but the recovery Joe Cocker.”

In addition to the music, which Hart says will maintain a balance of good, positive and upbeat tunes without sliding into treacle, Rock and Recovery’s programming will also include affirmations, testimonial recordings by people who want to remain anonymous and comedy bits by and for recovering addicts.

“It adds an element to the channel that keeps it upbeat and forward moving because we also don’t want to drag down and get too deeply serious with stuff because it can be distractive and turn into a downer,” Hart said.


The concept for Rock and Recovery came after Hart and WAPS general manager Tommy Bruno were looking for another niche concept to fill up the space on their HD bandwidth and realized that Akron is the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous.

With the expert help of addiction and recovery organizations, they came up with Rock and Recovery. Hart and Bruno said that while gathering information and potential sponsors, they received many votes of confidence and encouragement. “We didn’t even finish our pitch and they were saying ‘How soon can we have this? How can we get involved in making this happen?'” Hart said.

The excitement and enthusiasm of health care and other professionals “gave us a sense that we were on the right track and we also got feedback from them on what to add and they have really helped to craft this to make Rock and Recovery into more than just we play some nice songs and say some nice things to people,” he said.

Ideally, Rock and Recovery will become part of a recovering addict’s support system.

“It’s not necessarily for those that are falling down the path but those that are trying to pick themselves up and have gone through a program … and they need some support,” Bruno said.

“The goal here it to be a supplement. When they leave a recovery session or meeting, we’ll be one of those pieces they use to get through the day,” he said.


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