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Project 9-6-1 becomes Power 96.1, a top 40 station

power-961

[UPDATE: August 31, 2012: Cumulus is shifting its 98.9 signal to a Project-like sound starting at noon on Saturday, Sept. 1. It has been 99X at 98.9, an alternative rock station. The signal is relatively weak but at least it can fulfill the desires of active rock fans inside the Perimeter.]

With pop music having a powerful year, Clear Channel Atlanta has dropped active rock station Project 9-6-1 for a top 40 format it’s dubbing Power 96.1.

The change happened just after 7 p.m. The final song that Mediabase 24/7 reported as a Project song was at 7:02 p.m.: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” That’s when the station began playing a bunch of top 40 hits before making an official announcement at 8:05 p.m. and launching with LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” It promised 9,600 songs in a row, which equals about four weeks of commercial-free music.

Dunwoody High School graduate and media mogul Ryan Seacrest made a surprise appearance at the Jennifer Lopez concert Wednesday night at Philips Arena to make the announcement, noting that his mom will be able to hear him regularly again in Atlanta. (He started his career at Star 94 and has been on that station in syndication in recent years.)

Clear Channel nationwide has some seriously powerful top 40 stations, including Kiss in Los Angeles, where Seacrest airs his morning show and syndicated show, and Z100 in New York, where Wild 105.7 syndicated morning host Elvis Duran is based.

Starting Sept. 4, Power is bringing Duran from its existing rhythmic top 40 station at 105.7/96.7 called Wild, followed by Seacrest in syndication mid-days.

Now we know why Clear Channel got rid of its Wild program director a couple weeks ago. Wild is likely going to go away or shift its format so not to directly compete with Power. I hear Mami Chula, the key local personality on Wild, is staying put for now.

Could they bring a modified version of Project 9-6-1 on another signal? (Clear Channel owns 105.3 and 105.7, too.)

Program director Chris Williams, in a text this morning, said no. It’s over. On Facebook, someone posted this:

96.1 has been Atlanta’s rock destination since 1974. The Project Family is so proud to have carved out our own chapter in the rich legacy of WKLS. The radio dial will sound much different after today. We can never thank you enough for all your support and passion for Project 9-6-1 over the past 6 years and for 96rock the years before us. We consider ourselves among the luckiest each and every day we were allowed to enter this studio and create a radio station that made us proud. Thank you for inviting The Project into your cars, jobs and homes. Thank you for Living Loud and Playing Hard, please don’t stop. Most of all, thank you for being Part of the Project!

Project had a good run. It came to be courtesy of Williams, who first launched Buzz 105.3,a younger-leaning rock station. In late 2006, long-standing classic rock station 96rock became Project, an odd name that suggested an ephemeral existence. But Williams brought the spirit of the Buzz over to Project, which lasted more than five years, becoming a formidable player among younger listeners who liked the mix of older and current harder-edged rock by acts such as Guns ‘N Roses, Metallica, Slipknot and Five Finger Death Punch. It regularly finished in the top 5 among 18 to 34 year olds.

Some local radio folks who know Williams think he is pulling a deliberate “New Coke” move here. There will be such an uprising by Project fans via social media that Clear Channel will be “forced” to bring Project back on a different signal. If that’s the case, Project fans, get the petitions out! Here’s one page already out there. As of Labor Day, there are 3,600 names. Another one has more than 5,000 names. And a petition also has more than 5,000 names.

In the evening, it had a cool Jelli “Remote Control Radio” concept, where viewers could vote for what song to play next. And Aly was a stalwart presence in mid days. Project had trouble finding a solid morning show in its early years, Kidd Chris was starting to make inroads among younger men listeners after debuting last year.

Lately, top 40 and similar formats have been on a roll locally and nationwide. Q100 and Star 94 are both experiencing strong ratings. So was Wild. And B98.5 has freshened its sound to be closer to the other stations. All four are doing well.

Rock on the other hand has been in a death spiral nationwide. Atlanta has managed to air five rock stations, which combined, were barely pulling in an audience bigger than R&B/hip hop V-103. But Dave FM last month announced it was going sports talk this fall.

The gallery image on Project's Facebook page

The gallery image on Project's Facebook page

And now Project is gone, leaving Rock 100.5, 97.1/The River and 99X at 98.9.

Project’s departure could really benefit all three of those remaining stations, especially Rock 100.5, which has underperformed when the Regular Guys were not on. And even the Regular Guys’ numbers have dropped off the past two years. There is limited up side for 99X given its weak signal but Dave’s departure could help it. And the River will likely pick up listeners from both Project and Dave.

The last time the name Power was used in Atlanta was Power 99 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, also a top 40 station. It became alternative rock station 99X October 26, 1992.

So far, Power 96.1 sounds very much like Wild 105.7/96.7, which was edging more towards straight top 40 in recent months after focusing more on hip hop in its earlier days. (Earlier days being late 2010 and 2011.)

TV and billboard ads are scheduled to start next month promoting Power.

UPDATE Thursday, August 30, 8:26 a.m.: This morning, Wild is now playing more hip hop though it’s not quite Hot 107.9. No more Carly Rae Jepsen and Gotye. Will Clear Channel keep Wild? Hard to say.

A sampling of 10 songs new Power 96.1 from 9:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, August 29, 2012
David Guetta “Titanium”
Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe”
Chris Brown “Don’t Wake Me Up”
Kesha “We R Who We R”
Katy Perry “Wide Awake”
LMFAO “Sexy and I Know It”
Pink “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”
Bruno Mars “Grenade”
Rihanna “Where Have You Been”
Maroon 5 “Payphone”

The last ten songs on Wild 105.7 from that same time period.
Gotye “Somebody That I Used to Know”:
David Guetta “Titanium”
Ellie Goulding “Lights”
Havana Brown “We Run the Night”
Justin Bieber “As Long As You Love Me”
Calvin Harris “Let’s Go”
Katy Perry “Wide Awake”
Rihanna “Where Have You Been”
Usher “Scream”
Flo Rida “Whistle”

Q100 had a more pop feel with the songs it played during that time:
Train “Drive By”
Carly Rae Jepsen “Call me Maybe”
B.o.B. “Nothing On You”
Neon Trees “Everybody Talks”
Britney Spears “Til the World Ends”
Fun. “We are Young”
All-American Rejects “Gives You Hell”
Rihanna “Where Have You Been”
Mike Posner “Cooler Than Me”
Flo Rida “Wild Ones”

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

437 comments Add your comment

The OC

August 29th, 2012
8:37 pm

Sad day… How many Pop stations do we need? Oh, screw u Seacrest!

Andre

August 29th, 2012
8:40 pm

Clear Channel Worldwide has done it again.

They took a good radio station (96 Rock), ran it into the ground, then abandoned it’s long-time format.

Atlanta now has more of what it does not need; more pop music. And that is only so due to Clear Channel’s continued mismanagement of broadcast radio across the nation.

chrono

August 29th, 2012
8:48 pm

Wow, the 99X folks must be happy as can be. With Dave going sports and 96.1 going crap they have no stations competing with them at all.

What is this DERP

August 29th, 2012
8:52 pm

Ummmmm……what?

Peteetong!

August 29th, 2012
8:53 pm

Yeah C’mon!

The Regular Guys own the Kidd Chris Show!

kenhotlanta

August 29th, 2012
8:53 pm

Please bring back the old 96 Rock and leave us alone.

Lawrence

August 29th, 2012
9:13 pm

I understand everyones frustration with the whole situation but Clear Channel is not letting the format go. They’ve registered website names in place of where Project may end up. It looks like as of now its going to go to Project 105.3 from different website speculation or Wild could just go defunct and move down the dial and Project would get 105.7 and 96.7 you just dont know but dont count clear channel out just yet… They still suck but they not going to get rid of the format like that YET!

fes

August 29th, 2012
9:18 pm

and just what are the rockers supposed to listen to??? the 99x signal is too weak to be the only option.

@eidsonb

August 29th, 2012
9:22 pm

And with the change at 92.9 Dave coing…this stinks

GT Alum

August 29th, 2012
9:25 pm

This is what happens when local radio is primarily owned by 2 huge conglomerates. And it’s why people broadcast radio had long been losing listeners to satellite radio, internet radio and people’s own playlists.

Radio Boy

August 29th, 2012
9:43 pm

HIRE ME HIRE ME!

leonard

August 29th, 2012
9:43 pm

who cares you cna only hear the same led zepplin songs so many times and they acted like the 80’s didnt ever happen no wonder they are going away

leonard

August 29th, 2012
9:45 pm

well when you act like 80’s rock never exsisted what can you expect

ddd

August 29th, 2012
9:52 pm

Race to the bottom.

slider

August 29th, 2012
10:04 pm

Just heard that Clear Channel fired all if the DJ’s from a clear channel employee. RIP project

Rhubarb

August 29th, 2012
10:04 pm

Does anyone know if they are planning a new morning show yet? I’m rested and ready to go again.

mike

August 29th, 2012
10:04 pm

clearchannel sucks and i hope lawrence is correct on it moving elsewhere on the dial

SOUTHSIDE STEVE FAN

August 29th, 2012
10:08 pm

HOLY SMOKES HAVE YOU SEEN THAT LYNDSEY MARIE CHICK ON ROCK 100.5??? MAN SHE GETS ME GOING. WHAT ABOUT YOU RODNEY?

nCNhonky tonk man

August 29th, 2012
10:19 pm

First of all Houchbag Seacrest is souch a jerk in person,guess stardom got to him.We all are the same just because i fart and you fart seacrest ,yours is not going smell any better. 96 rock pkayed Classic pire rock n roll,these houch bags brought back 99x,hello people your 15 minutes is up,Alternative music died when Cobain dearly bless his heart passed. Same format at 99x is Beastie boys,garbage, RH chilipeppers,and a little Dave, and again Beastie boys……terrible please get rid of he left over xgen alternative station. 96 rock lives,im protest till isee see a change bring back the license plates.

Stephanie

August 29th, 2012
10:32 pm

If any of these stations would just play some variety and not the same 20 songs on repeat, they would get more listeners and for a longer time

Riverdog1

August 29th, 2012
10:35 pm

I travel the southeast for my job and Atlanta has the worst radio stations hands down. Just how many urban and pop stations do we need.

James

August 29th, 2012
10:35 pm

Spotify subscription – here I come…

Willie Buck

August 29th, 2012
10:38 pm

This is very frustrating. As a middle aged man who enjoys many genres of music, the rock options are going away and leaving us with mindless pop drivel. This is an opportunity for 100.5 to step up and be the flagship station. First, realize that the River owns classic rock, let them! Sprinkle classic rock into a more modern format. Realize that modern rock goes beyond the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers single. Second, drop the braves. We love the braves, but that is what AM radio is for. Third, allow TRG to get edgier again. Five days a week of “Hollywood Squares and Mic’d up” is a little boring. Fourth, Give Rude an afternoon show and let him program it!

Project4life

August 29th, 2012
10:42 pm

I go in to take a final and come out to find that The Project is no more? I have to listen to this generic pop junk? No thanks. I’m going to be listening to podcast and not terrible music.

Belynda Bridges

August 29th, 2012
10:43 pm

You people are absolutely RETARDED if you think this is what Atlanta radio needs. PowerAtlanta is NOT WELCOME!!! WE WANT PROJECT 9-6-1!!!

RIP project

August 29th, 2012
10:47 pm

uhh…top 40s music sucks anyways?

Steve McCoy

August 29th, 2012
10:51 pm

I’ve got 2 years of prank calls saved up and ready to go for a show. Call me Clear Channel, maybe.

Wink

August 29th, 2012
10:53 pm

I want a soft rock station. Oh my…it’s almost 11pm…I should be in bed.

James

August 29th, 2012
10:57 pm

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-project-961/signatures/page/16. save the project!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its the only station i listen to

Susan

August 29th, 2012
10:59 pm

This sucks! Where do we go to hear the songs that 96 Rock played? Sad day for Atlanta!

the masked tweeter

August 29th, 2012
11:07 pm

thank you clear channel. Chris Williams..beaten battered and fired…again

Science Gun

August 29th, 2012
11:20 pm

this is bullcrap, rock is losing its place on popular radio, to trashier and trashier top 100 lists. It’s really disgusting that they can just dump a full station of decent workers like that.

dylan

August 29th, 2012
11:25 pm

Why were they shut down? Was it because of how they were on the morning shows or what I would really like to know

Wayne stuck in AL

August 29th, 2012
11:27 pm

Top 40: a format geared to stupid little girls between the ages of 14-24 and get their news from E! News Daily…

jim beam

August 29th, 2012
11:28 pm

Sucks to be the Bert Show. Now they have to compete with mr seacrest

wikileaks(WKLS)

August 29th, 2012
11:34 pm

please check history on wiki. no reason to change formats, dj’s, or anything. it was perfect.

John

August 29th, 2012
11:39 pm

Terrific…they take away thee ONLY ROCK station in the ATL and turn it into a hip/hop top 40…why???

TURBOURBO

August 29th, 2012
11:40 pm

You know… Screw this. We don’t need another Top 40 Bee Bob BS station in this town. I was not a fan of how the 96 rock was handled… and definitely not a fan of how this all came to be for the Project Family. I loved the Buzz… and Love Project 961. As far as I am concerned.. Rock is dead in this town. You mentioned other rock stations… but I like Old and New rock. After today… The thought of having Linkin Park, ShineDown, Sound Garden, etc, etc, etc. ever come to this town again is pretty much null and void. Take your freikin Bee Bop BS Music and SHOVE IT Clear! Rock 100.5… if you aren’t paying attention… Balls in your court. If you want me… play it.. I will definitely start listening!

Randy & Spiff

August 29th, 2012
11:45 pm

We need another oldies station, not another top 40 station.

Rae

August 29th, 2012
11:48 pm

That’s such crap! We have enough lame pop stations that play and replay the same annoying and boring songs. If I wanted pop I would turn it to one of those stupid stations. Instead, take the only rock station. No wonder people are sick of the radio. Screw that

Pamela Carter

August 29th, 2012
11:54 pm

Sad day in Atlanta! Seacrest Sucks!!!! Can’t adults have a station that
plays current Rock Music and not just classic stuff we’ve listened to
for years? Please let me know where I can find Rock in the ATL?
Otherwise I’ll just listen to the iPod and skip the damn commercials!!!

jordan dubrof

August 29th, 2012
11:54 pm

will Joe breezy mami chula checka cee dj thomas prolifik dyron ducati and prolifk go to power 96.1?

BehindEnemyLines

August 29th, 2012
11:59 pm

From a business perspective, the move makes sense. Demographic changes in Atlanta mean the CHR/Churban piece of the pie is bigger – even split three ways – than the rock pie split two ways.
With the stronger signal, look for Power to be locked in a brutal three-way battle with Star & Q for a while as each tweaks their playlist to maximize audience. My bet is that Star ends up shifting lighter & lighter, eventually ending up with the old CHR audience (and maybe even stealing a few listeners from B98 eventually).

From a listening perspective, it’s a tragic day. Project was never what 96 Rock was, but at least it was somewhere in the ballpark. I’ll shed no tears over the demise of the double-digit IQ morning show but Aly, O.C. and Jordan were all good in their roles and generally likable personalities. I wish them well in their future endeavors, and will miss them.

And a special note about the demise of the Project Cinco Party. A couple of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve attended, which is saying something at the ripe old age of 45.

Dee Cee

August 30th, 2012
12:05 am

WTF?? Time to find another channel to listen to. Damn a bunch of top 40 BS.

BehindEnemyLines

August 30th, 2012
12:08 am

@Pamela Carter — sadly, for actual new ROCK, there’s really nothing left here. Maybe 1 decent song out of 20 on 99X but that’s about it.

The most obvious thing would be for 100.5 to at least start playing the fairly large amount of new music out there by artists they already play — Aerosmith, Kiss, Motley Crue, Soundgarden, ZZ Top all have new current hits that get very little if any airplay in Atlanta — and if they were REALLY smart they’d try to add music that was very compatible with their core sound (much like what 96 Rock did toward the end of their run).

But for today’s actual hard rock acts — Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Adelita’s Way, Seether, Halestorm, etc, etc — there’s nothing out there & really no existing station that it would make sense for. After all, we’ve just watched the demise of the only station playing them & it had nearly 40 years of heritage behind it and a strong signal behind it. If they couldn’t make it work then I’m not sure anyone would be crazy enough to try again for a long time.

Project Family Member

August 30th, 2012
12:09 am

The family is calling for a meeting. This is atrocious, and our voices shall be heard. The family is over 100k strong, and we all know what has happened when social media is used as a voice. We are the PROJECT FAMILY, We LIVE LOUD and PLAY HARD ! WE WILL BE HEARD !

sarah

August 30th, 2012
12:10 am

Another Mainstream music station that plays the same songs on a loop… like we need another one!

rockerboy

August 30th, 2012
12:16 am

OMFG. ARE YOU GUYS NUTS PROJECT 96.1 WAS THE BEST. WE DONT WANT POP OR RAP. WE WANT OUR ROCK BACK. YOU CAN MESS WITH OUR MUSIC LIKE THAT. JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE MORE BLACK PEOPLE THAN THERE ARE WHITE DONT MEAN YOU GUYS HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE OUR MUSIC AWAY. WE HAVE AS MUCH RIGHT TO LISTEN TO OUR ROCK AS THE DO T THERE RAP AND HIPHOP. BRING THE PROJECT BACK TO US. WE WANT OUR MUSIC. NOT THERES. POWER 96.1 SUCKS BAD. IM A MUSIC FREAK AND YALL MESSED WITH MY MUSIC. BRING BACK THE ROCK.

c-bear

August 30th, 2012
12:29 am

Atlanta radio sucks, for a long time now. The Midwest stations know how to program a rock station. Atlanta take lessons from Cincinnati, Fort Wayne, Dayton even Lexington !!! Morons! You deserve the boot!

BehindEnemyLines

August 30th, 2012
12:34 am

Just another sign of the times I suppose. Of the top 10 radio markets, it appears that only Dallas & Boston still have stations playing new rock. “c-bear” is spot on, rock is still alive in the heartlands, quite a few very well done stations in a lot of those markets.