This commercial radio format evolved in the 80's, and early 90's, propelled by the success of bands whose music had previously been limited to college radio stations. The format has become quite widespread, with most markets sporting at least one such station. The "Alternative" format has become so mainstream that the title has lost much of its significance.
For the most part, Alternative stations feature bands that play modern music from the last 6-12 months, much of which has its roots in "punk", "grunge" and "metal", and is targeted for an audience of teenagers, young adults and college students.
Typical Alternative artists include: Fuel, Papa Roach, R.E.M., Nirvana, Tantric, Three Doors Down, Offspring, Vertical Horizon, Semisonic, They Might Be Giants, Orgy, Incubus, Tool, Poe, Radiohead.