“Same as it ever was!”
That’s the stinger tag that’s been broadcasting all morning since 99x took over Rock 100.5’s place on the FM dial, along with a playlist of Nirvana, R.E.M., Foo Fighters, The B-52’s, Green Day, Kate Bush, and Simple Minds.
If you lived or grew up in Atlanta during the ’90s or early aughts then that mix of alternative acts will be nostalgically familiar.
Something was obviously afoot at low-rated Rock 100.5 over the weekend after the station began playing The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” on a continual loop.
This morning at 6 a.m., 99x kicked-off with the ironic “Video Killed the Radio Star,” The Buggles’ song from 1980 that heralded the long, slow demise of radio at the dawn of MTV.
With the majority of music consumers streaming these days, 99x and its owner, Cumulus Media, are at least self-aware enough to know that the glory days of radio are behind us. But with ’80s and ’90s nostalgia hotter than ever (“Stranger Things” boosting Kate Bush’s 35-year-old “Running Up That Hill” to number one on the global music charts, comes to mind), there might be a sweet spot for 99x yet.
It might be hard to believe now, but starting in 1992, 99x was “appointment radio” and sponsored some of the best concerts and special events the city has ever seen.
The station didn’t completely disappear in 2008 when it famously signed off with Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” but was relegated first to online only then eventually brought back to the airwaves on weaker signals, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rodney Ho.
The 99x website indicates that on-air talent will return on Jan. 3, plus there are links to old 99x live concerts and interviews from Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, and Foo Fighters.
While the stations venerable “Morning X” team – Steve Barnes, Leslie Fram, and Jimmy Baron – have moved on, it will be interesting to see who could possibly fill their shoes and if the nostalgia trip translates into advertising.
A letter to listeners on the station’s homepage sorta sums up the new mission: “It’s been 20 years since we parted ways. You’ve changed, We’ve changed. But we’ve heard you loud and clear during this – the 30th anniversary of when we first met. You want the station you discovered in 1992. And nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
Now, pardon me while I go dig out my old “I am 99x” t-shirt.