Not long ago, I got in the car, and a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tune was on the radio. I was hopeful that the next song would be another Tom Petty favorite, since it was Tuesday, and “Twofer Tuesday” has been a staple of rock radio as long as Petty himself. But the next song was Journey, and the song after that wasn’t another Journey song.

WBIG, better known as “Big 100,” broadcasting out of Rockville, had stopped the Twofer Tuesday feature of its programming. And I wouldn’t have been so disappointed about the disruption of a little piece of my weekly car radio routine, except that the area’s other classic rock station, 100.7 The Bay (WZBA, broadcasting out of Hunt Valley), also discontinued its Twofer Tuesday tradition last spring.

In the space of a year, Twofer Tuesday had vanished from Maryland airwaves.

Of course, fewer and fewer people would even notice a programming change on a local radio station in 2024. Between streaming services and satellite radio, conventional terrestrial radio has more competition than ever and dwindling cultural relevance. After all, who cares if you can’t hear two songs in a row when an entire playlist of an artist’s greatest hits is just a click away on Spotify?

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Radio has proven resilient, though — Nielsen Media Research found that 82% of Americans 12 and older listened to terrestrial radio at least once a week in 2022. Satellite radio powerhouses such as Sirius XM, on the other hand, grew in subscribers steadily in the 2010s but have flattened out this decade. Ads on Big 100 often encourage you to listen on an online app, rather than on your radio dial, which is probably a smart survival strategy in case car manufacturers eventually start producing more vehicles without radios.

Classic rock stations such as The Bay and Big 100 traffic in reliability and familiarity and the ability to trigger decades-old memories with a spin of a great old song. If you want to hear new music, you can turn the dial to 98 Rock or 92Q. If you want to hear the same Neil Young and Elton John songs that have been in radio rotation for a half century, you put on a classic rock station. Program directors at WZBA and WBIG did not respond to email requests for comment.

Part of the fun of Twofer Tuesday was the suspense of hearing a song and not knowing which track by the same artist you’d hear next. Most of the time, anyway — there are a few bands with exactly two songs in the classic rock canon. So, if you hear Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” on a Tuesday, you could reliably assume that “Magic Carpet Ride” would be next.

Much of the enjoyment of Twofer Tuesday depends on the execution. Playing two songs from the same album is a little boring, but sometimes a pair of songs can clash, especially if you follow a David Lee Roth-era Van Halen song with a Sammy Hagar-era track. Big 100 played fast and loose with the concept, sometimes following a Genesis song with a Phil Collins solo song. Still, the format gave stations a chance to dig deeper into an act’s catalog. A couple years ago, The Bay made a habit of pairing a familiar Pink Floyd staple with a relative obscurity, 1971′s “Fearless.”

Of course, the definition of “classic rock” and the parameters of the format have constantly been on the move. I can recall as recently as the early 2000s when it felt novel and even risky for a classic rock station to play music from 1987, the year of such blockbusters as “The Joshua Tree” by U2 and “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns N’ Roses.

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After the 2005 death of Maryland’s trailblazing alternative station 99.1 WHFS, though, it was perhaps inevitable that ’90s bands such as Nirvana and Green Day started to get absorbed into the classic rock canon. Now, you can even hear songs from the early 21st century on classic rock radio. That, more than anything else, is probably the influence of the Internet, collapsing all music into “new” or “old,” perhaps quickened by trends in satellite radio.

WZBA is one of nine radio stations owned by the Pennsylvania-based media company Times-Shamrock Communications, which also once owned Baltimore City Paper. In the decades that the company has owned the 100.7 frequency, the station has flitted between easy listening, modern rock and country music, before finally changing its call letters to WZBA at the turn of the millennium in late 1999 and settling on The Bay’s classic rock format in 2003.

Despite the absence of Twofer Tuesday, The Bay still features many of the hallmarks of classic rock radio, including “Get the Led Out,” a nightly selection of Led Zeppelin songs at 10 p.m. Mike Brilhart, a seasoned radio veteran who’s been broadcasting for more than 40 years, is the station’s best DJ, the kind of golden-throated rock jock who can recall obscure trivia about a song or the time he saw a band at the Baltimore Civic Center back in the day. Brilhart presides over both the Zep set and The Bay’s more unique regular features: “The Vinyl Frontier,” in which he plays an uninterrupted side of a classic album every night, and “Acoustic Café,” a mellow Sunday morning showcase of unplugged versions of classic rock favorites.

Big 100, which has been a classic rock station since 2009, is part of the iHeart Radio network, a cheerful-sounding company with a divisive reputation. Founded as Clear Channel Communications in 1972, the company became the largest owner of radio stations in America following the relaxation of federal regulations of media ownership.

Before the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Clear Channel owned 43 radio stations. Today, the company owns 855 stations, although it rebranded as iHeartMedia in 2008 to distance itself from perceptions about Clear Channel as an owner that was making the American radio landscape blander and less varied.

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Tuesdays used to wield a greater significance in the music world in general. For decades, Tuesday was the standard release day for new albums, observed by most record labels and music retailers. In 2015, however, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry decided on Friday as the default new release day.

For competitive reasons, radio stations don’t often go public about the rationale behind their programming decisions. Big 100 and The Bay might have market research stating that Twofer Tuesday was bad for ratings, but it’s hard to imagine that such a beloved signature of the format was a liability.

iHeart stations often move in lockstep, so Big 100 dropping the tradition is a bad sign that it’s probably happening outside Maryland as well, and that’s a shame.

As Lynyrd Skynyrd once sang, Tuesday’s gone with the wind.

Al Shipley is a Maryland-based journalist and music critic.