At 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2016, Atlanta welcomed back an old friend.
99X, the alternative music station that was so beloved by the city, has returned to the airwaves on 98.9 FM. That frequency had been playing country music for several months before becoming a home for holiday music over the past couple of weeks, and until today, it remained unclear exactly what format it would take in 2016.
For the first time since Aug. 2012, 99X is on Atlanta radio, but it doesn’t sound like the station will return to playing the 1990s alternative music that made it so popular two decades ago. Instead, they’ve started their first day back on radio with more recent rock music, which is still likely to be a breath of fresh air for those seeking something other than Top 40, country or hip-hop music in the A-T-L.
“99X will once again be Atlanta’s unique source for new music discovery,” program director Greg Ausham said in a press release. “99X will be a station rooted solidly in today’s artists and devoted to looking ahead toward what’s next musically.”
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According to Radio Insight, 99X started the new year with half of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” before it was cut off. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ “S.O.B.” (a song released in 2015) and Cold War Kids “First” (released in 2014) followed, officially ushering in the new format.
If 99X is to succeed this time around, they’ll have to overcome Atlanta’s declining interest in the rock format. AJC.com’s Rodney Ho said all three rock stations – 97.1 The River, Rock 100.5 and Radio 105.7 – saw declines in listeners in 2015. But 99X is still jumping head-first back into the pool, hoping to steal away whatever audience they can with the name that made them famous in the 1990s, even if the music won’t be totally the same.
99X first debuted in 1992, Saporta Report said, staying on the air for 20 years while hopping around to several different locations on the dial in the final years as its audience declined.
Image via AJC.comFollow @Sean_Breslin