Friday, October 20, 2017

99X Bringing Back The Morning X for Celebratory 25th Anniversary Show + FREE Concert

If you've lived in Atlanta for more than 15 years, you remember 99X.  99X, previously heard on 99.7 (WNNX) was one of the most successful morning shows in Atlanta radio history.  The station debuted on October 26, 1992, but its success and popularity grew in 1994 with the introduction of "The Morning X," a morning show comprised of Steve Barnes, Leslie Fram and Jimmy Baron, aka Barnes, Leslie & Jimmy.
A sampling of my 99X memorabilia 

The station, which for much of its existence maintained an alternative rock-heavy format, is credited with helping to launch the careers of countless artists, among them Collective Soul, Shawn Mullins and Josh Joplin.

Over the years, the station hosted dozens of events, concerts and promotions, among them On The Bricks at Centennial Olympic Park, and later Downtown Rocks at Underground Atlanta, 99X Upstart Fest at The Masquerade, Mistletoe Jam, an entire stage at Music Midtown, Live X acoustic sessions and a CD series, a celebrity softball game and plenty of others.  

Following a slip in ratings and the growing popularity of sister station Q100 which had been launched in 2001, 99X's 100,000 watt radio signal was transferred to Q100 in 2008.  The 99X brand and its modern rock format moved to 99.7 HD-2 and, leaving them no presence on the FM dial.

In the years that followed, 99X returned in different forms on different signals before arriving on the 98.9 signal in early 2016, where they have remained.

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of 99X, The Morning X will reunite for a one day morning show on Thursday October 26 from 6-10 a.m.  

Fram is the only personality to have continued with a career in the music industry. She came to Atlanta from Mobile's WABB in 1990, joining Power 99, which became 99X in 1992. She was Program Director and co-host of the 99X morning show until January 2008, when the station moved to an online format.  Today, Fram is a senior vice president at Country Music Television (CMT) in Nashville.  At CMT, Fram reunited with Brian Philips, another 99X alum and current President at CMT.   Barnes has dabbled in acting, with bit parts in a handful of movies and TV shows.  He now runs Atlanta-based Barnes Creative Studios, which specializes in 4K aerial drone video, Matterport 3D virtual tours and corporate video content production.  Baron, like Barnes, had a brief life on radio post 99X, but is today a residential realtor with Keller Williams Realty. 

ToNeTo Atlanta's editor, a longtime friend of co-host Leslie Fram and proud Freeloader, spoke exclusively to Fram and Mike Kee, Events Manager at 99X, about the plans for the big day. (Kee, who, for what its worth, is quite possibly the longest tenured 99X employee, is today the events manager not only for 99X but Q100, Rock 100.5, OG 97.9 and Kicks 101.5.)  

Fram says that invites have been extended to all original 99Xers with people like Crash Clark (now heard locally on Atlanta Alive on 11Alive) among the more likely to be able join in the celebration.  Steve Craig, another founding father of 99X, has been invited, but his current gig as morning show host on crosstown rival 97.1 The River from 5-10 a.m., could make his attendance difficult.  Sean Demery, another founding father of the station, had two stints at the station, the later of which had him co-hosting the morning show with Fram and Jenners.  Demery left 99X for a second time in 2007, and this past May accepted the job of Program Director of Portland, Oregon's KINK, a station similar to 99X.  Given the distance, perhaps he will be included via phone?

Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb, aka Toucher & Rich, also both 99X alums, currently host their own morning show on 98.5 "The Sports Hub" in Boston, and while they have been invited, their attendance is unconfirmed.  Jay Harren, who hosted the popular "Sunday School" show on 99X, is also now out of state.  Harren works at Descendant Records and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and kids.  Hopefully, Harren is able to make a call in as well.  Axel Lowe, another longtime 99X DJ, is now on 96Rock (WFTK) in Cinncnatti, another Cumulus-owned station (with no relation to Atlanta's old 96Rock.)  His attendance is in question due to a "scheduling conflict."  

Kee shared with ToNeTo Atlanta that 99X has partnered with Sports & Social at Live! at the Battery Atlanta to host an evening celebration on the 26th.  Live! at the Battery Atlanta is a three concept venue at The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park that was not even an idea when 99X was in its late 90s' prime. (The Braves were a perennial winner then, too, so maybe a 99X event at The Battery will bring some luck to the struggling club.)   
The free show (no Freeloader card needed, but bring it anyway,) will be headlined by local favorites Drivin' N Cryin' and Shawn Mullins, with additional performances by 58, Chelsea Shag, Zale and Future Babes.  Butch Walker of Marvelous 3 is also expected to supply a special video message in addition to a few more surprises.   

In addition to the show and the party at Sports & Social, Kee shared with ToNeTo Atlanta that The City of Atlanta has decreed October 26th will be known as "99X Day." City Council member Alex Wan sponsored the commemorative day and will present a plaque to the Morning X during the morning show.   This may sound silly, but if we can have a National Selfie Day (June 21), National French Fry Day (July 13), Just Because Day (August 27),  National Beard Day (1st Saturday in September), and so many other unusual holidays, then I say heck yeah, #IAm99X! 

What is your favorite 99X memory?  Who was your favorite personality on 99X?  What 99X event do you think had the biggest impact on Atlanta radio/promotions?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Ham said...

What was so awesome about 99X is they premiered the hits sometimes months before everyone else caught up. I suppose, in some way, they actually had a significant role in shaping what was cool musically in the 1990s. Best memory – them playing the full-length version of Cracker’s Euro Trash Girl.

Anonymous said...

I knew they went to online radio but then never really found them. They were a great station and probably better than most of the crap we have in Atlanta now. All the candy pop and over played Swift/Adele playlists made me switch to XM radio and other streams. Might have to tune 99x back into the list and see how they are. I listen to the regular guys now and my only grip with that station is that they rarely play any newer rock. Miss hearing FFDP, Volbeat etc.

Anonymous said...

99x took the best parts of college radio and added morning "zoo crews" and commercials. WRAS played Collective Soul, Shawn Mullins and Chris Isaak for years before 99x "discovered" them.

Anonymous said...

The best memories: Spin Doctors, Dada and Stone Temple Pilots. Oh, and having a Girl on the Mic that could hold her place with the fellas.

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