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Former 99xer Leslie Fram goes country, joining CMT

Leslie-2010-150x150So goodbye, Muse and Nirvana. Hello Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood!

Leslie Fram has gone country.

Fram, who was part of the seminal Morning X team in Atlanta during 99X’s rock heyday and ran the shop there for much of that time, has found a new job: senior vice president of music strategy at CMT.

Fram was most recently the program director at 101.9/WRXP-FM, the rock station in New York City, which is switching to a news format.

In the 1990s, she worked closely with current CMT president Brian Phillips, who was her boss at 99X.  So it’s a reunion for those two. She starts Sept. 1.

She didn’t waste much time between jobs. Her unemployment will end up lasting barely six weeks.

What does she know about country music? I have no idea. I tried to reach her via phone and text. No response yet. Ditto with Phillips, who is out ill, a spokeswoman emailed to me.

“Leslie Fram is beloved throughout the entire industry,” said Philips in the press release. “Everyone knows of her hard-driving passion for music, her unyielding integrity and her relentless work ethic. I have always believed that Leslie, in her soul, ‘belonged’ at MTV Networks, and she’s finally here! Rolling Stone just named Nashville as the town with America’s ‘Best Music Scene’, and Leslie can single-handedly help us retain the title. She will lead the team, embrace the CMT culture, discover new stars and provide all of our artists with imaginative opportunities.”

“Leslie has a great ear for any kind of music,” said Jimmy Baron, her former Morning X cohort. “Just because her career has been alternative music, the reality is she knows the business and she knows how artists are developed and how artists are marketed.”

[UPDATE: 8/17 Fram didn't get back to me but she did post this on her Facebook page:

Thanks to everyone for the amazing outpouring of support! I'll be working at CMT in Nashville as Sr VP of Music Strategy in one of the greatest cities in the world-Nashville. New York will always be special to me-where else can you walk for 5 miles and hit a Chinatown and Little Italy in one day! I'm grateful for your friendship and love of great music! More adventures to come because the first order of business will be to find the best BBQ in Nashville-please weigh in!!!!!]

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

63 comments Add your comment

Jon Lester

August 16th, 2011
3:39 pm

Looks like a good step up to me. CMT has some distinct differences from GAC but it reaches more homes. They also show some good movies sometimes, and they have “The Dukes of Hazzard,” too.

Steve Martin

August 16th, 2011
3:58 pm

What about Steve Craig? Didn’t he go to the same station in NY? He was the easily the best thing going at 99x.

rod

August 16th, 2011
4:36 pm

its who you know

ozzfest

August 16th, 2011
5:19 pm

ozzfest or stagecoach? you choice, leslie.

Ralph

August 16th, 2011
5:23 pm

I’ve been in the radio business for 38 + years and I can tell you first hand there is no better person in our business that Leslie Fram. She knows her stuff and I am sure she WILL take CMT to a whole new level of success.

Moby The Dick

August 16th, 2011
5:23 pm

I fully understand what is wrong with CMT, it’s being run by people that no connection to or understanding of country music.

I doubt that Fram has gotten any prettier since she was in Atlanta.

Stephen Duane Barnes

August 16th, 2011
5:28 pm

When does she install herself as host of the Top 10 Countdown show?

Libby

August 16th, 2011
5:31 pm

Hey Rodney-a great music person is a great music person. She probably knows more about country music than you do about radio. How about celebrating someone’s success for a change.

James

August 16th, 2011
5:33 pm

Hope CMT viewers like Foo Fighters

Eileen

August 16th, 2011
5:50 pm

What I don’t understand is how you cannot look at someone who has spent her whole life trailblazing, and creating new paths, and not be excited for her. Leslie knows music, all music. She will be using her savviness and intelligence to do great things for CMT.

heynowww :-).

August 16th, 2011
5:55 pm

I think she will do well. She helped usher in the “alt-country” scene to mainstream in the mid 90’s and has always been a part of the South by Southwest music festival. Hopefully, she can get more of that kind of music (Red Dirt music scene) into the mainstream of Nashville, which has gone waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too pop. Good luck, Leslie

quake

August 16th, 2011
5:57 pm

Congrats to Leslie — this is a huge next step in a great carer. And Ralph, you are absolutely right, and those of us in the business (and many listeners as well) recognize that. And Moby Dick, what an appropriate name (and not the Moby part.)

Lisa Rose

August 16th, 2011
6:19 pm

I worked with Leslie at 99X. She’s from Alabama. That gives her an all access pass to country music! She will be great there!

Gary

August 16th, 2011
6:19 pm

I think she will be successful. I am just sorry it will have to be with country music. God that stuff us awful.

Dan

August 16th, 2011
6:31 pm

Fram and country music . . . An odd match-up to say the least.

99X Fan 4EVR

August 16th, 2011
6:41 pm

Congrats to Leslie! Since the demise of 99X from the glory years, the Atlanta radio scene has sucked. Sure there was Bert and Q100 but it was the little sister trying to be like the idolized bigger sister 99X. Good but not GREAT! Whatever she sets her mark on is sure to succeed and I may just tune into CMT to see her trademark signature!

Kennesaw Dave

August 16th, 2011
6:45 pm

Very happy for her. And what a great opportunity. Quite a step up in the world for her. All the best to her.

John

August 16th, 2011
6:52 pm

Leslie lacked professional courtesy in my dealings. She acted like an elitist to my colleagues. Treating ppl like they don’t exist or are not as important as you is not a quality I for one find enduring.

i cringed when I heard her on the morning show. She never was funny or compelling on the air. When will ppl in ATL stop kissing her ass?!

Drew

August 16th, 2011
6:59 pm

This really isn’t a move to country. Country is Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson. Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood is pop – nothing more.

Lil bit Country Lil bit Rock & Roll

August 16th, 2011
8:13 pm

Great, CMT will go even more pop now :roll: I agree with Drew – I miss Cash, Waylon. Love Jamey Johnson, Eric Church.

Ugly Stick

August 16th, 2011
8:57 pm

I have a close personal relationship with Leslie Fram as does my entire family tree. She is sort of like that “great book” the critics tell you to read, and when you do you think, “I don’t see it.” Congrats I guess, unless you actually will watch the country product she’ll produce. Yee Haw!

John D

August 16th, 2011
9:34 pm

I worked with Leslie with one of my bands in the 90’s-I can’t think of anyone more artist friendly and supportive. She took the time to give us direction, advice and real guidance which she really didn’t have to do. We wish her all the best.

Don

August 16th, 2011
9:43 pm

Thanks for the info. I was just wondering what happened to Leslie the other day.

Bo Fatz

August 16th, 2011
9:51 pm

Ugh, that troll again. She always seemed so happy with herself, and her sucky morning show, and the sucky music her station played. Glad I don’t watch CMT. Glad 99X is gone.

Elmo Buzz's Friend

August 16th, 2011
10:06 pm

Friendly Advice: Think Y’allternative – Todd Snider and John Hiatt. A winning combination. Throw in a little Guy Clark while you are at it.

Stephen

August 16th, 2011
10:11 pm

Yes, what about Steve?

BlahBlahBlah

August 16th, 2011
10:22 pm

99x was garbage. Bunch of wanker music by upper middle class white posers acting like the world was holding them down. She helped “alternative” become mainstream and helped kill it in the process. Not sure why this is something to celebrate.

Lodney Ho

August 16th, 2011
10:44 pm

Well how does she expect to get Prince Adam of Eternia now????? Hopefully BeastMan Baron is still on the case.

My two cents

August 16th, 2011
11:04 pm

Not sure why some of you are hating on Rodney for this post. I didn’t see any disrespect to Fram in it — he was just reporting that she’s moving from a NYC station to CMT. His mention of “What does she know about country music? I have no idea.” only refers to the fact he hasn’t been able to touch base personally with her, not a slap at her knowledge of country music. I’m a longtime listener of several stations where Fram was music director and heard nothing but good things industry-wise about her knowledge of all music formats and her professionalism. Good for CMT. Sounds like she’ll be an asset.

Rhonda

August 16th, 2011
11:42 pm

She made household names of Hootie & The Blowfish, Creed & Train. Huge talents we all love today, right? That’s the kind of guiding spirit Country music needs today. Rock on.

Jaime

August 16th, 2011
11:52 pm

99x really didn’t do anything original. And whoever wrote this above was correct. They sucked whatever life was left in Alternative music clean out and made it 100% mainstream. They only added people who sounded like other artists they were already playing anyway, so it all sounded the same in short order. They would still suck, and sound like 200 other stations around the country if they were still in the air. That’s not Fram’s fault either. She probably mitigated somewhat the crap they put in hot rotation every month. Terrestrial radio just sucks, and the bigger your job, the harder you have to suck to keep it. Seems like anyway, or someone would do something about it, right?

jay

August 17th, 2011
12:05 am

Love it. Congrats

james

August 17th, 2011
12:43 am

hate life. Leslie was so awesome when I was in high school… but so was Jimmy and Barnes… I guess some people just move on… or down

Leslie

August 17th, 2011
12:50 am

Maybe she can add a new twist to that music genre.

I was frammed!

August 17th, 2011
2:40 am

she’s mid 40’s right? ok i’ll give her a 4 rating. let me give her a tip as a “music strategist”: play good music. how do people get jobs like this???? better question, why are there jobs like this????

I was frammed!

August 17th, 2011
3:07 am

wait i just had another beer….gotta move her up to a 5 rating.

Baden-Baden

August 17th, 2011
5:24 am

finally

August 17th, 2011
5:37 am

“Ugly Stick” I needed to start my day off with a laugh-thanks! I also agree that there are country artists that are nothing more than pop with a few more guitars. There needs to be a lot less Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw and I hope some bands with a better, more real sound come to the forefront. Hopefully Leslie can give some lesser known artists a chance to be heard.

Anon

August 17th, 2011
6:53 am

She sure has a face for radio.

Peteetong

August 17th, 2011
7:12 am

Remember the Barnes, Leslie, and Jimmy billboard on 285 between 85 and 400? The airbrushing on her face made her completely unrecognizable.

Sidenote, who is still giving Rob Jenners work in this town? If I have to hear his high-pitched lisp on another station, I’m boycotting it for life.

Tommy

August 17th, 2011
7:43 am

Now she can kiss the but of record companies with country artist. She She plays what they tell her. No mind of her own. You better be on a major label with Payola is technically illegal but the labels and radio found a loophole around it. Basically you have independent companies act as a middle man, go to the labels and ask for money then get to chose which artist and songs they want to be played on the radio. The middle man goes to the radio witht he money and offer it as a part of the operating cost, along with other favors from the labels and their artist. The radio then adds the songs to the rotation, hence the reason why you hear the same 15 songs on the radio constantly. She does nothing . She played Chumba Wumba. Thank god shes gone from Atlanta.

NYNick

August 17th, 2011
8:09 am

Who cares!!!!!!!!!!

Al

August 17th, 2011
8:17 am

Atlanta’s gain is Nashville’s loss.

A Different Jeff

August 17th, 2011
8:19 am

Since when does CMT play music? They’ve gone the way of MTV: lots of different shows about everything, but very little in the way of music videos.

Stan Drulia

August 17th, 2011
8:24 am

I would be willing to bet that 98% of the people in this town who “have her back” have been promised something or other by Fram to “move forward” their pitiful music career. Hootie, Train and Creed. Man- talk about horrible bands. It’s funny that there is such thing as her new position with the insane collapse of the music industry moving ahead. Just shows where all the money goes – lame 40-something white people who think they have their finger on the pulse. What a joke.

PJ

August 17th, 2011
8:24 am

Congrats, Leslie! As a music lover, I’ve always had a lot of respect for Leslie. I even put up with Barnes & Jimmy, so I could listen to her. So many DJs seemed to be in radio because they wanted to be famous. Leslie seemed to be there because she knew and loved music. I loved hearing her insights on a song or a band (when B & J would stop talking about their relationships or the gala special event they went to last night.) Popular country music has become so homogenized, I can barely tell the major stars apart. I’d love to see Leslie infuse CMT with more bluegrass, more mountain music, more Ameicana — in other words, add some depth. At any rate, she’s a plus for CMT!

mike scott

August 17th, 2011
8:55 am

i would hit it

Calling It Like It Is

August 17th, 2011
9:06 am

Ok, people….let’s call it like it is. 99x was once of the top stations not only in Atlanta, but in the country at its height in the 90’s. They were smart enough and were the only station in Atlanta that had enough guts (and balls for that matter) to make a format switch to an unknown and new format. Who else was playing the Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc.? No one could argue that the station was very influential in moving alternative to a more maintstream format. 96 Rock morphed into Project for the harder end and Z93 morphed into Dave FM, and went for the more adult end of the alternative spectrum. Who do you think was the person was behind creating the playlist including these artists when no one else was? The person that had the ear and knew that these artists had potential. Granted that some got played more than others (you know when management and labels get involved), but Leslie was not named one of the most powerful women in radio for doing nothing. Call her what names you want, but those of you who listened to 99x would not have been exposed to nearly half of the music you did if it wasn’t for Leslie Fram…the woman has an ear for music, no matter what the genre is. It wasn’t her fault that 99x left the air. It was corporate management that thinks they know what people want. In the many years I’ve been listening to radio and knowing how some of process works, I have never heard any stions do commercials thanking someone from a departed radio station for their contributions, like Q100 (same ownership) and Dave FM (not the same owndership) thanking Leslie for what she did for Atlanta radio. The station in NY where she was was an upstart, much like 99x was when it went on the air. She helped built the statiton’s listener base, but in the end, management stepped in and thought they had the answer…to flip to FM News. It wasn’t only in NY, but they did the same thing in Chicago. So you can’t put the blame on her…she is doing what they paid her to do. There is no doubt in my mind that she will be successful and make her mark at CMT, and none of my radios get country or my tv has never stoppped on CMT. Although true radio and music fans are sad that she won’t be coming back to Atlanta, we wish her well in Nashville. She will do great!

.......

August 17th, 2011
9:14 am

When did DaveFM change formats to Doucherock? I hear more whining in DaveFM’s playlist than I hear at work….and I work at a daycare!

Freddie Mercury's spirit

August 17th, 2011
9:14 am

Atlanta rock radio SUCKS !

Same old songs by the same artists, over and over and over …