99X, the biggest rock station in Atlanta in the 1990s, is back on the FM dial today 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’s a “line of sight” issue, so at 1,000 feet, it can carry reasonably well for a 20-mile radius from a Briarcliff Road tower in DeKalb County. 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.
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 are but they have used live jocks. I’m not sure how successful it’s been from a financial standpoint, but this current move is an obvious way to get 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.
But when alternative rock lost its edge in the 2000-2003 era, the station couldn’t decide whether to skew young or try to retain its legacy listeners who were not into the Limp Bizkit/Marilyn Manson stuff. The station tried to please both, failing on both fronts. The result: ratings and revenues steadily fell off. Last year, Cumulus hired the Regular Guys and created Rock 100.5, which has played a much harder version of rock than 99X until last week when it lightened things up.
The station at 9:09 a.m. this morning gave a quick synopsis of the station’s history and that people wanted the station back. It then played a bunch of clips from the history of 99X including clips of rock acts saying “I am 99X!” The last one was Scott Weiland crooning “I am 99X!” which was a common one regulars heard back in the day.
First song: “Know Your Enemy” by Green Day (2009)
9:15 a.m.: “I Will Possess Your Heart” Death Cab For Cutie (2008)
9:19 a.m. “Driver 8″ R.E.M (1985)
9:22 a.m. “Breakdown” Seether (2008)
9:26 a.m. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” U2 (1984)
9:31 a.m. “Use Somebody” Kings of Leon (2008)
9:34 a.m. “Mr. Brightside” The Killers (2004)
9:37 a.m. “Baker Street” Foo Fighters cover (1998)
9:42 a.m. “Funny the Way It Is” Dave Matthews Band (2009)
9:47 a.m. “Glorified G” Pearl Jam (1993)
9:51 a.m. “Hey You” 311 (2009)
9:56 a.m. “Pain Lies on the Riverside” Live (1992)
10 a.m. “Viva La Vida” Coldplay (2008)
10:04 a.m. “Misery Business” Paramore (2007)
10:07 a.m. “Lithium” Nirvana (1992)
10:12 a.m. “The Feel Good Drag” Anberlin (2008)
Someone has already set up a link to hear the start of the station on 97.9:
The technical details of the station are on the FCC Web site.