With much of local commercial rock radio in a weird flux, 98X WYBB enjoys the opportunity to enhance its reputation as a hard-nosed station with an independent streak. Compared to most FM rock stations, they keep an impressively flexible approach to blasting heavy-duty rock 'n' roll.
Not everything is totally cutting-edge at the X, though. The bill of the station's annual spring bash — an all-day music festival called Live X Day — is packed with longtime headliners like Papa Roach, Puddle of Mudd, and Sevendust, all of whom scored their biggest hits years ago. A sure-draw among the loyalists, however, the Live X roster resembles the sturdy fare of the various OzzFests and Warped Tours throughout the last decade.
"This is the biggest, baddest hard rock show we've had so far," says Potter — the music director and afternoon DJ at 98X. "The sales are already killing every other year we've done it. We're shooting for 6,000. If we get that, we'll be on top of the world."
On the current momentum and strength of fan loyalty for some of the big headliners and up-and-comers on the bill, Potter and longtime station Operations Manager and Program Director Mike Allen might just achieve that attendance goal.
In addition to late-afternoon sets from Papa Roach, Puddle of Mudd, and Sevendust, the bill features Hellyeah, Evans Blue, Paper Tongues, Hail the Villain, and local opener Souls Harbor. One can't hear any of these bands on any other local radio station.
Potter argues that the roster at this year's Live X Day accurately reflects the current personality of the station better than any previous Live X lineup.
"We always want to play any sort of hard rock from any decade that fits 98X," he says. "Sometimes, that stuff gets lost a little in the shuffle. These headliners have six or seven songs that we play in our regular recurrent and power recurrent rotation. Everybody's qualified. There's no band that we just kind of threw in just for the hell of it. They're really all our bands."
98X consistently sticks with the loud, guitar-driven, rock 'n' roll thing — some of which is fairly straightforward while some is over-the-top, theatrically-stylized schtick-metal. This week's concert probably enhances 98X's identity and credibility as a station with broad tastes.
Fortunately, not all of Live X Day is comprised of aging heavy-hitters. The festival brings several buzzworthy newcomers into town for the first time. Overall, it looks like a hearty mix of veteran and rookie acts.
"Papa Roach has been out behind a new album all year," says Potter. "Puddle of Mudd and Sevendust have brand new stuff out. Hellyeah is right down our alley.
"We added Hail the Villain simply because we liked them," he adds. "Paper Tongues is a little bit different. They're the odd ones out of the group, but I know they'll be a blast. Their single, 'Ride to California,' has been getting some air time on 98X. It'll be a lot of fun to rock out to."
The one-stage set-up will be the focus of Live X Day. 98X will host a signing tent where members of each band will hang out before and after their sets. Potter and his DJ and traffic center teammates will be on hand. Hopefully, their antics onstage and off will continue to enhance the station's rock rep and cred.