Active rock is a radio format used by many commercial radio stations across the United States and Canada. Active rock plays popular demand of new and recent hard rock and heavy metal and some alternative rock songs.
An active rock station may include songs by classic rock artists whereas a modern rock station would not (Boston, Thin Lizzy). Conversely, unlike classic rock stations, an active rock station also plays music by popular demand of new and recent hard rock and heavy metal artists, which are also usually absent from modern rock radio playlists (Young Guns, Art of Dying). Active rock station playlists may also occasionally include some popular alternative rock and punk rock songs that have crossed over from modern rock radio (Imagine Dragons, A Day to Remember).
Similar to active rock stations, Mainstream Rock stations play current rock music, but emphasize classic rock songs more than current rock songs.
A pioneering station of this format in the late 1980s was WIYY "98Rock" in Baltimore, Maryland. Other early adopters of this format by the beginning of the 1990s include stations KISS "99.5 KISS Rocks" in San Antonio, Texas, WAAF in Boston, Massachusetts, WXTB "98Rock" in Tampa, Florida, WGIR (FM) "Rock 101" in Manchester, New Hampshire, KEGL "97.1 The Eagle", in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and WJJO "Solid Rock 94.1 JJO" Madison Wisconsin. Satellite radio channels include Sirius XM Radio's Octane, and the gold-based Ozzy's Boneyard channel, also on Sirius XM Radio. Former counterparts prior to the November 12, 2008 Sirius/XM channel merger were XM's Squizz and Sirius's BuzzSaw. Australian radio network Triple M Network also uses this format. A later Internet radio station, Frogbox Radio, also began playing an Active rock format.
Active rock stations in Canada also include CFPL-FM in London, Ontario, CKQB-FM in Ottawa, Ontario, CJAY 92 in Calgary, Alberta, CFBR-FM in Edmonton, Alberta, CHTZ-FM in St. Catharines, Ontario, CJKR-FM in Winnipeg, Manitoba and CFXY-FM in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Active Rock is a chart published by Billboard that compiles the current hits on active rock radio stations and is used as a component for the Mainstream Rock chart. It is a forty-position chart and solely based on radio airplay. 59 active rock radio stations are electronically monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. Songs are ranked by a calculation of the total number of spins per week with its "audience impression", which is based upon exact times of airplay and each station's Arbitron listener data.
Songs receiving the greatest growth will receive a "bullet", although there are tracks that will also get bullets if the loss in detections doesn't exceed the percentage of downtime from a monitored station. "Airpower" awards are issued to songs that appear on the top 20 of both the airplay and audience chart for the first time, while the "greatest gainer" award is given to song with the largest increase in detections. A song with six or more spins in its first week is awarded an "airplay add". If a song is tied for the most spins in the same week, the one with the biggest increase that previous week will rank higher, but if both songs show the same amount of spins regardless of detection the song that is being played at more stations is ranked higher. Songs that fall below the top 20 and have been on the chart after 20 weeks are removed and go to recurrent status.
- Classic rock - contributes to classic rock format, but more so than modern rock.
- Mainstream rock - like active rock, a mix of classic rock and modern rock, though trending closer to classic rock.
- Modern rock - contributes to modern rock format, but more so than classic rock.
- Toby Eddings, "Active rock finds an Asylum at 93.5," The Sun News, Feb. 7, 1999.