Fans of the original 1990s incarnation of 99X will be heartened to learn that many of the original members of the station, including Steve Barnes, Jimmy Baron and Jill , are resurrecting the station as a tribute starting at 7 a.m. Thursday.
In the 1990s, 99X was one of the most influential alternative rock stations in the country when alternative rock mattered. And the Morning X garnered huge ratings.
Barnes - part of the original team from 1993 to 2003 – came up with the idea to bring the station’s spirit back after Cumulus killed the alternative rock station at 98.9 earlier this month in favor of hard rock 98.9/The Bone, which was a reaction to the death of Clear Channel’s Project 9-6-1 two weeks ago.
He’s dubbing it EX99 and it will be available at EX99radio.com.
“I’m calling it a pop-up station,” he said. He’s going to pick 300 songs he thinks represented the good ol’ days with some more current stuff that would fit in as well such as the Killers. He can’t define how long he’ll do it since he’s launching it out of his own pocket with no outside financial support.
Barnes plans to debut Ex99 Radio on air at 7 a.m. Thursday. He and Baron, former co-horts on the original Morning X with Leslie Fram, will join up at 8 p.m. to wax nostalgic and take calls. He isn’t sure if Fram will be able to join them given her responsibilities at CMT, where she is senior vice president of music strategy. Steve Craig, the long-time mid-day host on 99X, is interested, too, but he’s still attached to mornings on Dave FM until that station goes away in about a month or so. Sean Demery, former afternoon host at 99X, might join them.
Baron, the wisecracker, and Barnes, the mouthy jock, didn’t always get along but have long buried the hatchet. When Baron was on Dave FM, he even brought Leslie and Barnes back on air for a bit.
Let go from Dave FM as morning host after two years last fall, Baron said when he posted the news about EX99 on his Facebook page, many fans took the presumption he was back in real “radio.” That’s not true. Baron has had a real estate license for five years and just joined Goldin Group Real Estate Services to be a residential realtor. (You can reach him here if you need to buy or sell a house.) He’s also continuing to work on his video projects, which he started earlier this year.
Barnes, in the meantime, has been a successful social media consultant.
While Baron, who has a lot of old Morning X bits he could access, wanted to air some of them on Ex99, Barnes didn’t want to get in the crosshairs of the attorneys at Atlanta-based Cumulus, which still owns the intellectual property. (Not that this has stopped one guy here.)
If you’re feeling nostalgic now, here’s a “Monica Closeups” on the Morning X from the earlier days:
99X has already gone through multiple deaths in a sense. For many, the station wasn’t quite the same when the Limp Bizkits of the world popped up in 2000. Others point to the departure of the original Morning X in 2003. Or when 99X lost its spot on 99.7 to Q100. Or when 99X simply lost its spot on the FM dial. And though it came back on three different translators, the station was a shadow of its former self and had only a fraction of its original listeners.
Barnes doesn’t even consider the most recent incarnation as the real thing.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk