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2012 flashback: 99X at 98.9 becomes the Bone

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed August 12, 2012

99X at 98.9, owned by Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, is grabbing the active rock mantle from Project 9-6-1, which switched to top 40 Wednesday evening.

“We are the saviors of rock,” proclaimed John Dickey, head of Cumulus programming. “We ran Clear Channel out of format. We are going to save rock for all Atlantans.” He noted that they picked up the Regular Guys after 96rock dumped them. “Clear Channel tried to kill off rock. We’re going to save it.”

The station made the switch at noon Saturday with references to Green Day, Offspring, Linkin Park and Godsmack. The first song was Volbeat’s “Warrior’s Call,” followed by the Foo Fighters “Rope.”

Atlanta-based Cumulus, the second largest radio company in the country behind Clear Channel, has reserved,which is just a black screen right now. The company has a rock station called the Bone in San Francisco. Someone found a Facebook page for 98.9 the Bone, too, with the logo above right.

(As for Clear Channel’s move to top 40 with Power 96.1, he said, “They have to get through Star and Q100. I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. Ryan Seacrest isn’t going to save the day for them. What a mess they’ve dug themselves into.” An effort to reach the new market manager at Clear Channel Matt Scarano failed to render a response.)

For fans of Metallica, Alice in Chains, P.O.D. and Shinedown, this is somewhat good news.

The downside: the signal at 98.9 is relatively weak, a far cry from what 96.1 can project, so it’s not going to be helpful to many harder rock lovers who live outside the Perimeter.

The official change is at noon Saturday with a new name. Right now, the station is airing a sampling of songs that are going to be on the playlist.

488227_139224166221641_1473506249_nFans of 99X’s alternative rock format are going to be disappointed, of course, especially since Dave FM, 99X’s closest cousin, is also dying off in a few weeks for sports talk.

99X’s ratings on such a weak signal were very modest so Cumulus probably figured the signal could pick up more listeners with active rock. It’s a fairly safe bet without a lot of downside.

As a personal fan of Triple A and alternative rock, I’m glad I have Sirius/XM and of course, umpteenth music options on my iPhone to boot.

Historically, 99X was a powerhouse in the 1990s but alternative rock lost its mojo in the 2000s and by early 2008, the station was left online only. In April, 2009, when a translator signal at 97.9 became available, Cumulus placed it back on the FM airwaves. The station in 2011 moved to the very weak 99.1, then to the slightly better signal at 98.9.

I have no clue if 99X will come back in any form. Sister station Rock 100.5 could potentially shift its music mix to attract the now lost Dave/99X listeners. Or not. We shall see soon.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.