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ROCK RADIO by Lisa Wainland


by Lisa Wainland

ISBN: 978-0-9978588-1-5
Publisher: Twin Tree Press

In Wainland’s (Iron Butterfly, 2015) nostalgic thriller set in 1998, two radio disc jockeys find success in their professional lives, but their personal lives are a different story.

At Miami radio station WORR (“Only Rock and Roll”), DJ Jonny Rock (Jonathan Roeker, off-air) has been cheating on his wife for years—lately, with a cute, redheaded intern whose ambition he exploits for personal gain. Dana Drew (Dana Hill, off-air), one of a handful of female DJs in a male-dominated industry, is respected for her talent, but she’s also used as eye candy for promotional events, which she hates. Meanwhile, Larry Carter, Dana’s creepy superfan, has been losing weight, hoping to impress the radio host when he finally meets her in person. After surviving a traumatic childhood, Cody Blue Smith is finally getting his big break as a musician, but his newfound success strains his relationship with his band mates and his girlfriend. The radio station brings all these characters together and then tears them apart. The overarching story captures the zeitgeist of the late 1990s, as the DJs, rock stars, and listeners reveal the glamorous, complicated, and dangerous sides of the music industry in alternating narratives. Wainland’s characters are flawed, funny, and self-aware, brought to life with sharp prose: “he was sporting the hair style an angry child with a yellow crayon would give a stick figure.” The historical details also ring true: the tastemakers of the late ’90s were still people, not algorithms. The best DJs had loyal fans, and even the rude and raunchy ones had hate-listeners. The on-air banter on WORR is as cringe-worthy and familiar as the alternative rock bands on the playlist. Although it’s no surprise when Dana and Jonny receive unwanted attention, it’s exciting to watch what happens when newer technology, such as caller ID and search engines, is used against them.

A fast-paced and fun throwback to the heyday of the radio era.