Alternative rock station 99X, which has been on the less-than-compatible 97.9 FM dial position, is now on 99.1. This makes it more “brand reinforcing to have the 99 back,” said Gary Lewis, a senior vice president at Cumulus.
After years of dominance in the 1990s and gradual erosion throughout the 2000s, the station in 2008 lost its coveted 99.7 signal and was relegated to an on-line only presence.
About 15 months later, the station owner Cumulus Media procured a modest signal at 97.9 and started playing the station there in 2009. The 250-watt station covers the central part of metro Atlanta but is hardly the powerhouse 100,000-watt signal 99.7 is. (That’s where top 40 station Q100 resides now)
Lewis said the 99.1 signal is “comparable” to 97.9 though he didn’t have the exact details. Readers of radio-info.com were discussing the signal today and said it’s strong north of I-20 (I can get it on my dorky Sony headset here at AJC headquarters by Perimeter Mall) but the Macon country station at the 99.1 signal eats 99X alive on the southside.
Its ratings have been modest, typically ranking 22nd or 23rd in the market, a far cry from its days when it was a top 5 station in the 1990s on a much stronger signal. And its musical format – alternative rock – is no longer nearly as hot as it used to be. Axel Lowe is one of the few remaining links to the original station and he is now the morning host.
The station will simulcast on 97.9 and 99.1 for now. What Cumulus will do with 97.9 is currently “undetermined,” Lewis said.
UPDATE on 11:55 a.m. June 11, 2011: Radio Insight said Cumulus might turn 97.9 into Journey 97.9, what would be termed as a Hot AC station. The station recently registered 979journey.com and Journey979.com. Cumulus last month launched Journey station in Cincinnati, which is where, coincidentally or not, Lewis was yesterday. A glance at that Journey’s playlist at yes.com shows a playlist that looks like a blend of B98.5 and Star 94.)
Many of 99X’s older fans have wandered elsewhere, be it Pandora or Dave FM. And Project 9-6-1 slices off a good portion of the younger rock audience with its “active rock” format.
For folks who haven’t listened in awhile, here’s a typical hour on 99X from earlier today, according to yes.com
12:02 p.m. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication
12:07 p.m. Pearl Jam – The Fixer
12:10 p.m. Foo Fighters – Walk
12:19 p.m. Blink 182 – What’s My Age Again?
12:21 p.m. Cage the Elephant – Shake Me Down
12:25 p.m. Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl
12:28 p.m. The Black Keys – Howlin’ For You
12;32 p.m. Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight
12:36 p.m. Rise Against – Help is on the Way
12:40 p.m. Linkin Park – Somewhere I Belong
12:49 p.m. Middle Class Rut – New Low
12:53 p.m. Radiohead – Creep
12:57 p.m. Sick Puppies – Riptide
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog