The Rock Tour on Y254


Rock Tour is a show that airs on the Y254 channel. It is currently the only airing TV show dedicated to Rock music in the entire country. The show is hosted by Phylline Jean and Dj Hueskillz and airs every Saturday from 5PM. But while it isn’t the first TV show dedicated to Rock Music, it is the first that champions local content.


Before the Rock Tour was greenlit, there were other shows focussed on rock music running on local TV. STV’s the Rumble had the longest run time while KTN’s Rock Wednesdays supplemented the weekday programming. I was weaned by the playlist selected by KTN’s Rock Wednesday. Fans of Punk Rock were also treated to a diverse playlist on Family TV.KTN’S Rock Wednesday’s resident Deejay Kaytrix spun tunes from Paramore, Slipknot, Muse and sometimes a bit of Marilyn Manson. It aired only Wednesdays but it was the one time that I saw something that appealed to my tastes on TV. The weeklong wait was nerve racking, but the anticipation was always worth it.


That was in 2010.

Almost a decade later someone’s seated in a seat, in a living room not quite unlike ours. The tunes are the same – the staple of Avril Lavigne, Creed, Breaking Benjamin and Disturbed. These are pretty much the same songs that aired a decade back. It got me thinking about the culture of rock music. Is it that the genre is as dead as people say. Or is it that rock tunes are just timeless odes – like the feeling of nostalgia you’d get if say Cranberries’ Zombie came on. I think its a positive because there are multitudes of people that enjoy these timeless tunes, not just hardcore rock fans that are more aware of newer trends. I’m sure that most of our readers would agree and would encourage the circulation of the same songs that people enjoy, especially because you won’t find them anywhere else on TV. So the fact that The Rock Tour keeps them in circulation is welcome.


But beyond that there is a way in which the show is quite unlike its predecessors.The Rock Tour has taken great pains to not only invite local rock bands for interviews but also encourages the viewers to attend rock shows. Back in the day no one made mention of any local rock scene –  the only bands I saw on TV was KMO’s Kamata Cables and seasonal appearances from Last Year’s Tragedy. Granted, back then local music videos were few and far between – much has changed since then – including the government’s commitment to nurture local talent.

Y254 an affiliate of public broadcaster KBC will broadcast youth themed programs, in effort aimed at offering youths an alternative from conventional media programming. The revolutionary TV station set augmenting the Studio Mashinani concept that will offer talented youths a platform to development their gifts.

ICT Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru reiterating government’s commitment in scaling up youth empowerment programmes and opportunities with the view of creating employment and growth of film and music industry in the country.

excerpt taken from the KBC website

Last week there was some debate about the airing of local content with the musical fraternity angling for broadcasting houses to #playkenyanmusic. The debate isn’t new but it got me thinking.

In the digital age, the lines between the film and music industry are continously getting blurred, with both mediums complementing each other. For instance musicians provide scores for film as filmographers provide music video services to musicians. The Rock Tour is an example of a platform that has opened the door for Kenyan Youth to promote their content. With its focus on rock music, it offers an alternative to the kind of music content that mainstream media broadcasts. More importantly, it is a ready chance for Kenyan rock musicians to have their content given priority. Sadly the uptake has been slow, either for lack of awareness or lack of prudence. There are only a handful of videos out from local bands and this has really restricted the content from the show. In fact, co-host and resident deejay hueskillz castigated the local rock community for lacking drive and failing to take up the opportunity that had been brought to their doorstep. He was feign to hear excuses of the costs and logistics involved with shooting music videos- pointing in stead to the fact that mobile telephony has made it possible for music videos to be shot inexpensively, provided one is willing to be creative and use what they have.

ICT cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru has said that these are among the measures  employed by the government to nurture talents and innovations, and at the same time help in meeting the required 40% local content for Kenya based broadcasting houses. Y254 is one of the few local broadcasters championing this agenda and the government has done its part to give youth a platform. The ball is now in the young people’s court to do the hardwork because there’s a ready platform that will prioritise their content.


Beyond playing local rock content, the show is also quite educational. They always have a feature topic of discussion. For instance, there shows host and hostess have picked topics like depression, suicide and domestic violence, things that go to the core of the struggles of urban youth. They also have a fun segment called “Play it or Trash It” where they let the audience choose between two bands and the one that gets the most votes gets played.


One drawback however is concerning the manner of the broadcast. While other stations are leading the way with live links, Y254 and its Rock Tour are still lagging behind. Save for people that can afford a digital set top box, a majority of the youth access their content online. It is crucial and we hope that the showrunners are reading this that we make the shows on Y254 readily available through live stream or have the same recorded and uploaded on video streaming platforms like YouTube.

Another thing I would love to see is more of the stakeholders in the rock community getting invited over. People like Mildred Achoch, Ronjey, Rish, David Mburu, Nick Wathi and Harvy Herr just to mention a few have a wealth of knowledge on the events and milestones of the local rock scene.

Y254’s Rock Tour airs on channel 054 on StarTimes   and channel 824  on Signet.

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