Imagine this: you’re on your leisurely drive home after a hard day at work. You decide to turn on your car radio to your favorite adult contemporary station for some Katy Perry and Harry Styles. Instead, you hear Zack de la Rocha screaming ”[censored] you, I won’t do what you tell me!” on Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 hit protest anthem “Killing in the Name.”
On Wednesday, June 29, listeners of the Canadian radio station KiSS RADiO were greeted with exactly that. Freelance journalist Tracey Lindeman was the first to break the news to Twitter. “Whenever someone calls in for a request, they deny it and replay the Rage song again,” said Lindeman. Lindeman published the tweet at 3:45 p.m. ET, but it had been going on for several hours by then. The song is played on repeat with no pauses in between. According to Lindeman, when someone jokingly requested “Killing in the Name,” the DJ replied, “Stick around. I don’t know when we’ll be able to play it but we will play it.” We can all guess what happened next.
People speculated it was in protest of Roe v. Wade being overturned, but according to Rolling Stone, the station is reportedly protesting the layoffs of two morning show DJs, Kevin Lim and Sonia Sidhu. The pair had been at the station for five years. By the looks of it, this has been going on all day. On the Vancouver subreddit, one user asked “Anyone noticed the station exclusively playing Killing in the Name Of by RATM on continuous loop this morning?”
The song and the radio have had a tumultuous relationship. In 2009, English DJ Jon Morter launched a campaign to make the song hit a Christmas number one instead of the winner of The X Factor, who has held the position every year since 2004. Various celebrities joined the campaign, including Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney. Shortly after the campaign was launched, Rage appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to perform the song. Despite the hosts asking for them to censor the song, the band raged against the machine (read: BBC) and performed it uncensored. After over half a million paid downloads, the song hit number one for Christmas.
Unfortunately due to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission guidelines, KiSS RADiO has to censor it. I bet Rage Against the Machine is still happy with the reported protest.
Correction – June 30: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the station’s actions as an act of protest. This story has been updated to reflect this.
After 24 hours of playing the song on repeat, the station announced a format change. Despite previous reports that this was protesting the layoffs of Lim and Sidhu, the station was actually “stunting,” which many stations do when they want to announce a pivot to a new format or brand. The station used the song to signal a change to an alternative rock format.
On the station’s old website, a message reads:
Thank you for listening to KiSS RADiO in Vancouver & The Valley. This KiSS is saying goodbye but you can still listen to the KiSS Radio in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto on their websites or on your smart speaker devices. . . If you’d like to try something new, you could listen to SONiC – The New Alternative.
Did you miss the song? That’s fine, just look below to revisit Rage Against the Machine’s 1999 Woodstock performance of the song via the Paste archives.