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“The Sun Is Back In The Sky”: 99X Returns to the Airwaves

In a surprise move, 99X, the biggest rock station in Atlanta in the 1990s, went back on the FM dial Friday after 15 months online only, this time at 97.9.

Cumulus, which owns Q100 and Rock 100.5, recently took over 97.9, which is called a “translator.” It’s a relatively weak in-town signal emanating off the Q100 tower at 250 watts (vs. 100,000 watts for Q100). Even at 250 watts, it can carry reasonably well. Folks in Acworth and Woodstock have been able to hear the station.

“There’s a whole lot of excitement,” said Gary Lewis, the general manager. “The day feels different. The sun is back in the sky with 99X back on the air.” He noted that 5,500 people joined a Facebook page lamenting the end of the station on the FM dial.
If you’ve listened to the new 99X at 97.9, what do you think so far?

Lewis will remain at jock mid-days 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with B.J. Kinard from 3 to 7 p.m. and Jillian at night. Matt “Organic” Jones, a holdover from the old days, will keep doing his Sunday morning Organic X from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (It had been noon but was extended an hour.) 99X promotions such as Live X’s and concerts at Park Tavern will also continue.

Cumulus took 99X off the air but kept it on www.99x.com (and on HD radio for the handful of folks who own HD radio). The station wasn’t merely a jukebox, as many Internet-only stations. It still utilized live on-air talent.

The jury remains out on how successful it’s been from a financial standpoint. However, this current move is a way to score more advertising dollars by at least having 99X on the much more accessible FM airwaves, even in a limited fashion.

And though it’s on 97.9, the name remains 99X, since that still has value in this market. (One of the liners even joked about it by saying, “Alternative rock never sounded so… static-y!’)

99X, which launched at the dawn of Nirvana and Pearl Jam in 1992, was a phenomenon in its heyday, drawing 500,000-plus listeners and at its peak, regularly ranked top 3 among 18 to 34 year olds and top 5 among 25 to 54 year olds. It truly captured the zeitgeist of the grunge era.

The station went back on-air Friday at 9:09 a.m. and gave a quick synopsis of the station’s history and the rigorous campaign by its fans to get 99X back. It then played a bunch of clips from the history of 99X including clips of rock acts reciting the station’s signature battle cry, “I am 99X!”

Overscene

British pop star Lily Allen, 23, prim and proper as an English Rose greeting fans at her Star 94 private acoustic show for listeners at the W Atlanta-Buckhead.

Wearing a surprisingly un-pop star wardrobe of ripped blue jeans, t-shirt, white Air Jordans and red sunglasses, Allen was on her best behavior. A normally outspoken singer, she danced, joked and even answered questions from audience members, which ranged from her clothing line to if she had already paid taxes. Later when asked about the lyrics of her hit single “The Fear” and its references to her not wanting “diamonds or fancy clothing” she scoffed and admitted that she DID want diamonds and clothes.


In true pop star fashion, however, Allen never took her sunglasses off in the two hours she was at the hotel. Buzz’s theory? Perhaps it was because she stayed out late the night before eating at Gladys Knight and Ron Winans‘ Chicken & Waffles in Midtown.

‘Killers’ Are Looking For You
Always wanted to get closer to Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl or Tom Selleck without being hauled off in cuffs? You can turn up today for the “Five Killers” casting call for an upcoming scene to be shot at the Tributary community. We hear Kutcher is playing a former CIA operative turned family man, trying to retire in suburbia.

Here are the details: The call will be held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, April 18 in the cafeteria of New Manchester Elementary School, 2242 Old Lower River Road, Douglasville. The casting director for extras is seeking approximately 150 men, women and children of various ages. No acting experience is necessary, and all extras roles are non-speaking. Applicants should bring a recent non-returnable photo, no larger than 4 x 6.
Buzz hears the extras will appear in one of the movie’s major scenes, a block party set
in Tributary’s Founders Park (why do we envision bullets flying in the scene?). According to the extras casting director, the roles pay $52.56 for eight hours of work, with overtime after eight hours.
Additional information is available at http://www.tributaryga.com/blog/

An Experience with Monica

When Atlanta’s Grammy-winning R&B singer Monica makes an appearance at the new AT&T Experience Store today, she’ll have more to talk about than that customized LG VU phone she’s giving away.

Her manager has confirmed that she will have a reality show on BET this fall, titled “Monica: Still Standing.”

But back to the in-store — it’s from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 7900 North Point Parkway in Alpharetta. Attendees can register to win an “Angel of Mine” Mother’s Day Out (spa treatment for Monica, her mom, and the winner and his/her mom): an all access VIP meet and greet with Monica that will include photos, autographs and “treats”; and again, that customized phone, complete with Monica’s favorite songs and photos.

Celebrity Birthdays

Actress Barbara Hale (”Perry Mason”) is 88. Actress Hayley Mills is 63. Actor James Woods is 62. Actor Eric Roberts is 53. Actress Melody Thomas Scott (”Young and the Restless”) is 53. Talk show host Conan O’Brien is 46. Actor Eric McCormack (”Will and Grace”) is 46. Actress America Ferrera (”Ugly Betty”) is 25. Actress Alia Shawkat (”Arrested Development”) is 20. Actor Moises Arias (”Hannah Montana”) is 15.

Contributing: Rodney Ho, Sonia Murray and news services.

Have an item for Buzz? E-mail it to us at buzz@ajc.com. Now follow Buzz Central updates throughout the day on Twitter. Go to twitter.com and search “PeachBuzz.”

4 comments Add your comment

Iwas99x

April 18th, 2009
7:09 am

If I remember correctly 97.9 was the first incarnation of what is now Project 9-6-1. It was Buzz 97.9. That is a super weak signal.

I will give it a try, but alot of why I tuned into 99x was the on-air talent. Hey Mr. Lewis, you still have Barnes and Jimmy’s number in the rolodex? Sounds like a good morning drive to me.

S.W

April 20th, 2009
6:19 pm

I am so happy to hear 99x is back on, I have had no morning show since they went off, and Project 96.1 does not play hard enough music. I ban Q100 from my house and cars when Cumulus destroyed the only good station left in Atlanta.

John

April 20th, 2009
7:37 pm

People still listen to FM radio?

Patrick

April 23rd, 2009
11:13 am

Good to hear 99X back on the radio. The other day I got to listen to Andy Hall from Manchester Orchestra live on 99X and that is just one of several bands that get lost between the Project, Q100, and Rock 100. I am so glad 99X is back on the radio. And yes, people still listen to FM. I’m not paying for satellite. I just don’t think it is worth it.