WNCX launches online rock and roll hall of fame
by John Soeder/ Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic
Wednesday January 30, 2008, 10:36 PM
Is this town big enough for two rock 'n' roll halls of fame, even if one of them is only virtual? We'll soon find out. The average fan has no say as to which artists get inducted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so WNCX FM/98.5 is creating its own pantheon.
Starting today, you can vote at www.wncx.com to get your favorite rockers into the Cleveland radio station's Classic Rock Hall of Fame, an online venture set to occupy part of the station's Web site.
"When it comes to enshrinement in the Rock Hall, fans are completely cut out of the process," said Bill Louis, WNCX program director and mid-day disc jockey. "I always thought it was one of the biggest mistakes the Rock Hall made."
It remains to be seen if the Rock Hall can coexist with WNCX's cyber-shrine.
"My initial reaction is this is a radio promotion, but if there's a trademark violation, we'll have to talk to them," said Todd Mesek, the Rock Hall's vice president of marketing and communications.
Three years ago, the Rock Hall filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against another online enterprise. The Jewish Rock & Roll Hall of Fame regrouped with a "Challah Fame" at www.jewsrock.org, after reaching an out-of-court settlement.
The huge ballot for WNCX's hall lists 140 nominees, ranging from the usual suspects (the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, anyone?) to some beloved classic-rock bands that have been snubbed by the Rock Hall, including Deep Purple, the Moody Blues and Rush. You also can nominate write-in candidates.
Votes only can be cast online, through Sunday, Feb. 24. Safeguards are in place to prevent ballot stuffing, Louis said.
The top 20 vote-getters will be inducted. One honoree will be announced on-air per day on weekdays, beginning Monday, March 3.
The Classic Rock Hall of Fame will have a Web page devoted to each inductee, which could include biographies, discographies and clips of songs, Louis said.
WNCX plans to induct another group of artists in the fall, then make this a once-a-year event.
"To be voted in by the people who bought the albums and bought the concert tickets is a bigger accomplishment than being friends with Jann Wenner," Louis said.
Rolling Stone publisher Wenner is chairman of the New York City-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, whose nominating committee handpicks potential Rock Hall honorees and sends ballots to 600 music-industry insiders. Artists become eligible 25 years after the release of their first recording.
The same eligibility requirement applies to WNCX's hall.
"It's the only thing we're going to steal from them," Louis said. "Legally, I would certainly hope we're far enough away by calling ours the Classic Rock Hall of Fame. We're not a museum, although we fully intend to have a picture of Ted Nugent's loincloth, if and when he gets in."