99X… The Beginning , Middle and End

January 22, 2008 at 8:12 pm 73 comments

Last night I was packing away a couple boxes of notes and scribbles associated with 99X and I thought it was time to reread the notes and do some sharing. (thanks for the e-mails on this subject)

My name is Sean Demery and for much of 99X’s saga I was there. 

From 1989 (WAPW) through 1992 (the birth of 99X) until 2000 and then again from late 2006 till late 2007.

 

The Beginning

 

In the summer of 1992 I was working at CHR Powerhouse Power99 in Atlanta.  At that time I was the music director, Rick Stacy was the Program Director and Leslie Fram was the assistant PD for the station.  We began to believe that Top 40 radio had become a bit embarrassing. This fact was hard on me because I had spent the preceding 15 years programming or working in CHR and Rythmic CHR and really enjoyed it. In the early 90’s, Pop novelty offerings such as “Ice Ice Baby, You Can’t Touch This, Baby’s Got Back and I’m Too Sexy”, did not mix well with “Nirvana’s Never Mind CD, or Pearl Jam’s 10 CD.   Mixing these opposing musical and cultural styles made it overtly apparent that Power 99 needed to pick a position:  Pop drivel or the new emerging Rock culture.  Looking back I suppose Power99 could have gone on to play both, but at that place in time both styles seemed so converse that one needed to pick sides. 

What happened next was a series of odd events, which propelled the station towards a different model. By the end of that summer, Power 99 was without a General Manager. Bill Phippin was succumbing to a terrible bout with cancer.  His passing was a personal loss, as if I were loosing a father figure. When you lose someone important in your life it has a tendency to open your eyes and mind; Bill’s passing made me (and many of us) realize that life was too short to simply be happy with the status quo or mundane. I still live by this axiom to this very day.

After the loss of Phippen, the interim GM was Rick McDonald, who was also the VP of programming for Susquehanna.  Rick, (another smart guy and a friend to this day), was amenable to trying something different as Power 99 had hit lean times in ratings and billing.

 The players at this stage were, Rick Stacy, Leslie Fram and myself. We wrote up a proposal to modernize WAPW, and bring it into the new decade.  Our proposal was simple:  We wanted to change the brand name and its content.  Rick (Stacey) and I made changes to music, Keith Eubanks spearheaded imaging, and Leslie prepared the staff for the changes to come.

The night before the ‘management approved’ music change, and switch to 99X, I called Rick in a panic, at 1am.  I had been scheduling the first day’s music and realized quickly that the changes we made to the Top40 list were not enough to make a difference or leave an impression in a listener’s mind.  Simply omitting the novelty tracks and adding a few Alternative artists wasn’t enough.  So at 1:25am October 26th, 1992, Rick, Leslie and I got on a conference call in our pajamas and changed the station even more than management had approved.  It was gutsy, and completely unsanctioned by Susquehanna; and as youthful, irreverant minds would dictate, the only right thing to do.  By 4:30am we had purged 70% of the approved library and had a music play-list based on our personal preferences, with the three of us laughing, yawning and squeeling “Oh Oh Oh how about…”  As I remember it Steve Craig and I spent most of what remained of the night desperately locating and categorizing CD’s for the new project.  Many of these CDs came from our personal collections, many we never got back and remain in the library on the wall of the control room to this very day.  (By the way Steve would end up playing a key role in 99X’s evolution as time went on.  His sound and demeanor would become the backbone of the overall station jock presentation).

By 5AM the modified 99X was ready for delivery.  Fortunately and unfortunately, management wouldn’t know this until they heard the 6am to 12noon broadcast themselves. This 6-hour show time explained what we were about to do and the actual content changes that would come starting at noon.  Yes, management was peeved and rightfully so.  They were expecting a less radical approach to the 99X they had endorsed.  If anything, Susquehanna Broadcasting was a slow methodical company that didn’t take well to careless shoot from the hip prognostication, and that’s what we were doing; dangerous, passionate, prognostication.

Frankly, if it had not been for the tons of phone calls to the front desk, the bags of mail, faxes and most importantly (in management’s eyes) the overwhelming positive response from local add buyers, 99X would have been still born on the first day. 

99X was put on the air with no research, and with no thought put forth as to how the new format would fit into the commercial sales picture.  It was simply a gut reaction, made by a group of music lovers and radio dweebs, as to where our Atlanta community was in that moment in 1992, nothing more. 

The songs picked had little to do with any published music charts, instead we asked friends what they were listening to and we went to record stores to see what was selling.  That was it.  Many of the music selections we started with were not heard again after the first year.  We had no intention of sounding like the ‘World Famous KROQ’ in Los Angeles.  The imaging for the 99X was based on feeling and vision and less on any particular message.  As a matter of fact, 99X’s first slogan was no slogan at all… “No Labels.”  It meant that our station wasn’t trying to sell you on any concept or marketing slogan.  You only needed to listen to see if it met your music and cultural needs.  No catchphrase was needed for that experience.

  Even the name 99X was a borrowed icon from a Top40 1970s/80s radio station in New York City.  We just thought the name sounded like the alternative music culture in 1992.  It was also a time that a powerful movie about Malcolm X was coming out in theaters; also it didn’t hurt that the letter X meant something just a little unseemly, like an X rated movie, which we liked. Actually now that I think of it 99X never referred to itself as an Alternative station until after 2000 which is funny because by the time some consultant decided we should call it Alternative it had become a music and cultural norm.  Within the first month on the air as 99X, entered Mark Renier.  Mark was hired as the new General Manager with a mandate to turn the station back to the preapproved Susquehanna version.  As it would turn out, Mark became a supporter of our version and over the next 8 years would actually become the major reason 99X would thrive. It was due to his mastery of sales efforts and implementation of NTR that 99X become one of the Top 5 billing stations in the market in the 90s.  Without his leadership and that revenue, 99X would have met a speedy demise. Though we thought we had created something special in 99X, it was adroit business sense and not authentic programming made that 99X viable.

Putting 99X on without all the industry standards was one of the most rewarding radio adventures I’ve ever had.  We didn’t put it on to be the number one station in the market, and it wasn’t.  We didn’t put it on to be the “cooler than you”, because we weren’t.  We didn’t put 99X on to make a whole bunch of money, even though it did in the 90’s and the staff was moderately compensated. We put 99X on the air to have a place to listen to the music we were listening to at home.  And we were hoping listeners would like it as well.  Passion for the music you can play and the ability to share it with others is one of life’s greatest gifts.

 

The Middle

 

In the beginning we thought bands like Ned’s Atomic Dust Bin, James, Charlatan’s UK, Live, Nirvana, Gin Blossoms, Pixies, The Ocean Blue, etc, etc were the “now” bands of the early 90s and they needed a station to expose them.  Many of those bands never came to fruition on 99X.  The bands that were embraced came from the bands that the listeners brought to the table via phone calls, faxes, and later e-mails.

In the 90’s, the station commonly hung in the Top 5 in ratings, in persons 18-34 (its target). And at its peak, top 5 in 18-49 persons. From these fruits of ratings prominence 99X went from billing 7 million dollars in ad revenue in 1992, to just a hair under 20 million a year in 1999.  For the programming and on-air staff, increased station revenue meant more freedom to stray from the conformity of industry music charts and radio trade standards, and more funds to put into cultural events like the Chinese New Year’s concert and Big Day Out.

During the 90’s, 99X had a play list of researched favorites, which the jocks were allowed to deviate from occasionally to insert their own musical finds. This is where many new artists/bands got their first exposure.  It was common to hear Will Pendarvis, Steve or myself delve deeper into new CDs, take 20 minutes to play the best tracks from a staple artist, play something that just came in the mail, or that we found at Criminal Records, or to just fool around for an hour every Friday in the Swinging Velveeta Lounge, whatever.  As a matter of fact, the Lounge was inspired from a comment a listener made to me; he told me that I was cheesy as hell and didn’t deserve to be listened to.  “You want cheesy!  I’ll give ya cheesey!” That specialty show of novelty records, sound effects, movie drops, and a live studio audience was the silliest thing I’ve ever done.  The program had a great following, was disliked by management, and still they spent $200 on a banner for the program.  What a station! I have the banner rolled up in the corner of my office.  It’ll make a lovely drop clothe for painting.

In those days, commonly upwards of 50% of everything heard on the station was new music.  That meant that literally every other song you heard on 99X was new or less than 3 months old. Playing new music, moving forward, building the new music culture for the moment, that was our mantra.  The Programming staff picked music and mindset for the station and the jocks cleanly rendered their version of the over all station philosophy.  This was a dream job for any jock who wanted an open canvas to paint and not a “paint by numbers” gig.

 

The End

 

The demise of 99X started long before Cumulus broadcasting acquired the station.  The blame for the station’s decline needs to be spread amongst everybody who ever programmed, managed or manned a microphone, myself included.  When you step up to the plate and swing away, sometimes you’ll get a hit, sometimes you get a home run, other times you simply strike out.  Even great players misjudge the ball and strike out.  There is no shame in failure if you try.

1998 was a troubling year for the station.  Though the ratings were good and billing was at an all time high, 99X began resting on its laurels. At least it felt that way. The station over all became a much safer place than earlier in the decade.  Internally it became over analyzed, over researched and over scrutinized.  Because of its success, management wanted to make sure that we were doing the “right thing” when it came to running a proper Alternative station.  The screws began to tighten ever so slightly.  Less chances were taken, and more and more of 99X started sounding like we were filling the agreed upon template.

After Q100 was added to the Susquehanna Atlanta family, Leslie was upped to oversee both Q100 and 99X and Chris Williams became PD. During this time and in observance of emerging market conditions 99X took a harder male exclusive turn that began to alienate women and alternative lifestyle groups that the station was originally based upon.  It was yet another calculated risk that just didn’t pan out.  I can honestly say that if I had still been there during that time I might have strayed down that path as well.  This new direction put 99X’s sound at odds with itself.  In effect, for a time 99X lost its way.  This happens to many radio stations as well as branded products in any industry.  Once you alienate a treasured listener it is hard to get them back.

 By the mid 2000’s, at least three different consultants had their fingers in 99X’s pie.  The result of this guidance from three converse advisors was something I call “programming by consensus”.  By doing this you get a down the middle compromise which ends up not serving any one listener with anything they really want.   I’m guessing that it drove Leslie Fram crazy.  She’s a smart programmer who had to spend daunting hours in meetings and on conference calls listening to multiple pundits postulate about what the station needed to do.  Leslie spent much of 2000’s having to deal with outside help that management wanted as a pacifier, help she didn’t need.  What she needed was to be left alone in the same way as when she helped create the station in the first place.

The more unfocused the station became the more the station took on a defensive posture.  Defensive posturing is boring.  No one throws a punch they just hold their hands in front of their faces and wait for the fight to end… and it has.

With Cumulus taking over several years ago there actually might have been a chance 99X could have been reborn.  But alas Cumulus is very much into centralized programming and music accounting.  Music accounting is where you depend heavily on auditorium music tests, weekly call out, and perceptuals to tell you what to play and what to think.  This process works fine for many CHR, AC, Rhythmic, Classic Rock, Country and Latin formats but not for Youth Culture offerings.  You can’t plop 100 participants into an auditorium and play them 500 pieces of songs and then just pick the top 225 songs and say “Boom, there’s your Alternative play list!”  This kind of music accounting doesn’t take into consideration music generations, cultural rifts, artists based congruity and the ubiquity of these tracks in the populous.  Music accounting is a soulless way to build a station. Cumulus seemingly programs most of their stations this way and with some good results.  Unfortunately, they didn’t understand that though it’s all well and good that Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, STP’s Vasoline and Man in the Box by Alice in Chains may test marvelously you cannot build a Youth (young adult) culture station around them.  Those bands are from two music generations ago.  In other words if you were 21 in 1992 you’d be 36 or 37 today and you might have an 18 year old.  Though you may like early grunge your offspring thinks this music is their dad’s music.  Though some youth are multi generational in their tastes, many don’t want to listen to their dad’s music.  Every generation deserves its own battle cry.  Hormones dictate it… not research.

As stated earlier in this rant, in the mid 90’s, upwards of 50% of the music 99X played was new based.  This meant that every other song was new or no older than 3 months old.  Recently 99X has been operating with a max of 19% new music.  That means that you get 3 new songs an hour, and many of those were ill focused for the 99X music community.  In the end, it seems that Cumulus was in fact programming 99X like an AC station with alternative rock hits, in the hopes of securing a 25 – 54 year old add buys.  Focusing on 25-54 with a station that was built to accrue 18 -34 year old is like putting a bicycle on the track in a stock car race.  Peddle as hard as you want… you lose the race… by miles.

Looking from a music stand point it seems like Cumulus couldn’t understand the fact that Bush, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and their ilk were the bands of yester year, and were not the building blocks for the current music generation.  It felt like that they were trying to recreate the 90’s.  The 90’s are gone.  They couldn’t understand what bands like the Shins, Silversun Pickups, Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, The Bravery, Interpol, Spoon, Against Me, Rise Against, etc had to do with 99X.  These are bands that sell out medium sized venues in Atlanta with little or no airplay; they have massive internet and magazine prominence.  These are the same types of building blocks we used in 1992; these are today’s building blocks for this music generation.

As we get close to the end it didn’t really matter.  Bert from the Bert show (on Q100) needed to be on a better city grade signal, which 99X had.  99X of late hadn’t produced enough ratings or revenue to continue to stay viable.  Cumulus depends heavily on the Bert Show to make Q100’s nut.  Boom, it’s that simple.  Keep Bert happy and switch frequencies and as a bonus do something on the new station that won’t have 99X baggage.  In other words, start anew.  Maybe not a bad idea… we shall see.

Pertaining to the frequency switch and demise of 99X, I had no idea of the events that were about to unfold when I left.  I just figures that they would lumber along long after my exit.  And contrary to the many e-mails I have received, I do not believe my leaving prompted Cumulus to give up on 99X.  I made very little difference in the molding of 99X over the last year, and my appearance on the New Morning X was benign at best. I merely thought that my leaving would create a slot for someone new to infuse the team with a new spark into a smoldering fire.

At its best, 99X was that radio station that used to be pretty damn good.  Again, it wasn’t crafted to be a mass appeal number one station.  How the hell could you be the Alternative to pop (popular) culture and also be the most popular?  99X was there to aggregate enough quality listeners to satisfy the sales department and to satisfy the programming staffs need to do something that mattered.  99X helped multitudes of bands get their start.  The station staffers received numerous industry awards and accolades.  At times 99X felt like it was making a difference. At its best 99X was a great experience on the inside.  I hope it was good for you as well, because that’s why we created the station in the first place. 

We were 99X and for the most part it was a blast.

 

To everyone I can think of who initially made 99X the talk of the industry for years…Thank you.

Rick Stacy the first 99X program director – For having the guts to implement what we were all thinking.  His chutzpah gave 99X its birth and battle cry. 

Brian Phillips the second 99X program director – His vision and moral support gave the 99X staff the fortitude to do more than the basics and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

Leslie Fram – One of the smartest and most decent programmers out there.  She commanded 99X for its best years and tried to rally common sense into upper management long after they stopped listening.  She is much smarter than the product you’ve been hearing for the last several years.  She knew what to do but couldn’t get a buy in from upper management.  No one could.

The Morning X with Barnes , Leslie and Jimmy was one of the better morning shows ever to grace any station.  They were one of the main reasons 99X flourished.

Steve Craig – The passionate music aficionado who infused knowledge and zeal into the daytime hours and beyond.

Will Pendarvis – Delightfully mentally imbalanced. Will understood how to build his own ethos within the walls of 99X.  In effect he infected all of us.

Axel – Smart, constant and always interesting… He rose from intern phone answering guy a very proficient talent and a genuinely good guy.

Keith Eubanks – The twisted troubled soul who gave 99X its first interesting imaged sound.  He is sorely missed from this world.

 

As for me I’m appreciative for the opportunity I initially had to be a part of the 99X team.  It afforded me freedom, inspiration, numerous industry awards and never being in want of new job opportunities.  For me the second time around not-so-much.  It’s why I left 99X several months ago.  It wasn’t worth doing something mediocre and not being with my family.  I have left several good gigs over the years sighting family needs because in the end family is more important than being a cog in the wheel of mediocrity.  Doing something that matters has been with me since the passing of Power99’s GM Bill Phippin.  Life is way to short to do lifeless work.  There are always new fulfilling battles to wage.

Bill if you can hear me now, know that you influenced myself and a lot of people’s lives, way after we were deprived of your smile.

 

sd

   

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73 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joey Mills  |  January 25, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Great commentary on a sad day… I hate to see 99x flushed down the drain to the internet/hd-2.

    Reply
  • 2. Chris Phurrough  |  January 25, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Sean,
    I have been reading for days on all the radio internet sites and I must say you have captured the essence of 99X’s history. So when do we get to read a full length novel about your life at 99X? I had no trouble imagining you and Steve digging around a stack of CDs, playing with bull horns and so on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Shout back if you can, take care.

    Reply
  • 3. AK  |  January 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Sean,

    We miss you in Atlanta! But probably even more, we’re missing 99X. At least it continues to live online, but it will never be the same.
    Much luck to you in your new life!

    Reply
  • 4. Brian Crescimanno  |  January 25, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Sean,

    Thanks so much for providing this insight into the history of, for many of us who grew up in Atlanta, a radio station that provided the proverbial soundtrack for our lives. In 1992 when Power99 became 99X, I was 11 years old and was initially dismayed by the change. Within a year, I was a full time 99X listener and stayed with the station even after your initial departure. I remember when you left the first time–my high school girlfriend and I were heading out to a movie and we were both shocked when you said you were leaving–I’m pretty sure she cried a bit over it. Now, 26, I haven’t listened much in the past few years mostly because of exactly what you pointed out–the station lost it’s way.

    My favorite part of this story was the formation–the story of you, Leslie, and Steve scrambling to go against management and realize this vision you all had for 99X. This is the first time I’m learning of that story, and it really hit home after reading it that it was that spirit that had been missing from the station these past several years. I know wherever you, Leslie, and Steve end up you guys will be successful. As for me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Swinging Velveta Lounge will see a resurrection on the airwaves someday! Until then, I hope you keep posting here; and take care.

    Reply
  • 5. Paul Marshall  |  January 26, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Sean,

    You and I met briefly during a convention panel thing somewhere. I’m not sure if it was R&R or Conclave or whatever…The point is, for years there’s been a small groundswell of music people who wonder what happened to when we could pick songs, tailor our shows to be truly unique, to have individual flavor and yet be part of the greater vision of the station? We’re held to the almighty Arbitron standard, and yet 99% of the content of our shows are dictated by a hard and fast playlist. I’ve probably cost myself many a gig by asking why we complain about how ratings are collected, and then we use the same theory when conducting “research.” Seems sort of contradictory. Your rant only further galvanizes the point. We’re told content is king, so perhaps we’ll move in that direction. Someday, it will take music people to save music radio. Hopefully you’re around. Hopefully someone will deliver on the promise of radio for music lovers. But we can’t stop there. We must remain the epicenter of the audiences lifestyle. And no research project can provide that roadmap. You can’t “feel” a test score. You gotta know it’s right. And only a few people can truly “feel” their audience. 99X was a place that the rest of the country looked toward. For what it’s worth. You guys made a difference. And proved that it doesn’t work everywhere.

    Reply
  • 6. gttim  |  January 26, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Thanks for the write up! I used to love 99X because I heard new music. Yes, 99X lost its way a while back, and I moved on to satellite radio. I remember Will Pendarvis leaving and was pissed! He played stuff I wanted to hear. I remember you leaving and was upset. I have seen Steve opening bottles onstage at Roger Clyne concerts and was not upset! I hope you get the chance to be a part of starting something great again! Good luck!

    Reply
  • 7. pkriegler  |  January 26, 2008 at 3:01 am

    Hey Sean,

    Loved reading this. Much respect.

    I wholeheartedly agree about the whole over-researched approach to the format.

    I would imagine the jocks became less interested what they were doing, because of what they were playing, too. The overall personality of the station faded as it changed over time.

    Between you and Pendarvis, that was some of the best executed alternative radio in the 90’s, period.

    Paul Kriegler

    Reply
  • 8. Alex  |  January 26, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Thank you very much for that Sean. You guys really did make a difference for an entire generation living in a pretty good sized city and i remember all of it! I am very very thankful i got to live in Atlanta and have such a great radio station that really mattered.

    Reply
  • 9. Tim  |  January 26, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Charlatans UK. The Beautiful South. XTC. Sparklehorse. The Pixies. The Replacements. Tori Amos. Pearl Jam.
    If it weren’t for 99X, this poor ol’ country boy in Summerville, GA would have missed out on a wonderful world of music.
    Thank you, Sean. And Leslie. And Steve. And Axel for waking me up and keeping me going. It’s not going to be the same.

    Reply
  • 10. Erik Bagby  |  January 26, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Sean,

    You put your heart and soul into something greater than yourself. I have been listening to 99X since I was a junior in high school way back in 1992 when Power 99 gave way to something that didn’t fit the mold. 99X paralleled my own life at the time and in years to follow. I was a loner and the music that played on 99.7MHz kept me from losing my sanity at times. You and the charisma of everyone at the station made it more than just another radio station. These were much different times indeed. I hate to say it but the corporate homoginizing of “alternative” radio is what is killing it and forcing it to the new medium of internet and satellite. As you so eloquently put it, one cannot program such a station as Star 94 and expect it to be have similar results. It’s no different than V-103 playing country tracks. Just doesn’t work.

    You, Leslie, Will, Axel and all of the many voices that were a part of my life from adolescence to adult hood will be missed. The soundtrack of the first third of my life has ended. It is time for a new chapter, another disc, another file- but I will never forget the memories you created for myself and countless others.

    I had the honor of working the Downtown Rocks series back in 2005 in my chosen profession of EMS. The energy and ambiance brought me back to 1992 when I was younger, thinner and some might say happier in a defective sort of way. 99X was there and will always live on as a legend.
    Thank you for creating something that was a part of so many of our lives. Your tears, sweat, rage, anger, happiness and all those emotions that come about when creating something were not in vain. Best wishes to you and your family Mr. Demery.

    Regards,

    Erik Bagby,

    Reply
  • 11. Jack Shell  |  January 26, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Hey Sean… great post, and great memories from an Atlanta radio outsider, former Cumulus employee, and longtime fan of 99X. Cherish the memories. You were part of a legendary, iconic radio station, and one many of us wished we could have been part of as well. Thanks for sharing this.

    Peace

    Reply
  • 12. Jack Mcazek  |  January 26, 2008 at 6:11 am

    I wish more people would write this way.
    This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I had a clue how things are done.
    Manchester says hello and goodbye to a station we all looked and listened to for year. It won’t be the same on the Internet now. It will be cheap like everything else that companies throw on the web.
    JackOnRadio1

    Reply
  • 13. Craig B. Waters  |  January 26, 2008 at 6:22 am

    I met you at an R&R convention in 1986 when you were winning some award for something and you took time to talk to me for 10 minutes about getting ahead in this crazy business. I’ve never gotten the chance to thank you for that. All theae years later I’m running a small cluster (3) of stations in Wyoming. I’ve been telling everyone I know for years that you were one of the best influences I ever had. Your words made a difference with me.
    So after all these years, thank you.
    Good article by the way.

    Reply
  • 14. Brian Saye  |  January 26, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Sean,

    You and the architects of 99X helped shape the soundtrack of my 20’s. You helped to widen my music listening horizons. It is a shame that Top 40 has reclaimed 99.7 FM. All things are cyclical I suppose. I wish nothing for you but the best for you and Jennifer. With respect, admiration and appreciation I thank you.

    I was 99X.

    Brian

    P.S. – Any messages delivered via bullhorn will be welcomed. Even if it is Peanut Butter and Jelly Time.

    Reply
  • 15. Bonnie Fuller  |  January 26, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you. For everything.

    Reply
  • 16. Brandon  |  January 26, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I’ve only been around Atlanta for about a year but I can appreciate the vision that you guys brought to the radio dial. I found it completely disheartening when I read your sentence, “They couldn’t understand what bands like the Shins, Silversun Pickups, Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, The Bravery, Interpol, Spoon, Against Me, Rise Against, etc had to do with 99X” because that is exactly what I would want to hear when I turn my radio on and you know it. I know you know music because Live X – Souls is both wonderful and full of stuff you just don’t hear on the radio.

    I wish you the best in all you do. Great radio stations may die, but great music will go on forever (you might just have to look a little harder to find it).

    Reply
  • 17. GC  |  January 26, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    hey. i’ll never forget the day you locked yourself in the studio and played “bitter sweet symphony” like 100 times. can you speak about that moment?

    Reply
  • 18. Ginny  |  January 26, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I was 10 when 99X went on the air. At the time I did not live in Atlanta, however, my extended family has always lived in Atlanta and my dad and I loved to drive in and listen to 99X. When I chose what college to attend, part of my decision was made because I wanted to move to Atlanta and listen to 99X (a somewhat frivolous reason, i suppose i’m fortunate that Atlanta has a few good schools). Now I attend grad school at UGA and I don’t get to hear 99X as often. I have been baffled and disturbed for the past few days (I’ve had experiments to stop in the middle of the night) when I’ve turned on my car and heard Q100 jocks and music instead of the 99X I used to love. I appreciate this write up of what happened as we grad students are somewhat out of touch.

    Reply
  • 19. Hooper  |  January 26, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    I listened to Power 99 when I was in grade school, and I listened to 99x all the way through high school and college. I was there at the beginning and at the end, and the whole thing is a ridiculous fucking shame. The king is dead, etc.

    I actually had the pleasure of hanging out in the studio during one of those sponsored “come by, eat breakfast, watch a broadcast” deals and it was very nice. Should’ve taken a picture, I guess.

    Thanks for everything.

    Reply
  • 20. Jamie M  |  January 26, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Shawn,

    Beautifully written. It was an honor to have shared a studio with you.

    Reply
  • 21. Kathy V  |  January 27, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Sean,
    I was in my second year of college when my roommate told me that Power 99 was changing to alternative. We were listening when the switch occured which was really cool! I remember at first you played alot of “Phish” and that “red fish blue fish swimming in the water” song. :)

    I have so many great memories of 99X. I am so sad that it is now gone. I lived in Seattle for a few years in the 90’s and listened to 107.7 The End – the closest thing to 99X. I am terribly saddened about what has happened to 99X. As Steve Craig wrote, I was 99X from the beginning. I even still have my original 99X card (though it is torn up from using to scrape the windshield in college!).

    Thank you for the wonderful perspective you have written and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. You are a wonderful person and sorely missed here! BTW – does that cell phone number still work?

    Best Wishes and thank you for everything.

    Reply
  • 22. rudiecantfail  |  January 27, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Sean,

    The blog was excellent! I have (or had at this point I guess…) been a long time listener. You guys really seemed to be doing something good for music and for the listeners. Company’s like Cumulus settle for mediocrity because mediocrity pays the bills. For them, there is no desire to take any sort of a chance, or do anything creative or remotely interesting. DJs aren’t allowed to be true DJs when they are told to play everything from a certain list. I can’t help but remember the Tom Petty song from a couple of years ago called “the last DJ.” The song perfectly represents everything that happened here. I certainly cannot blame you for leaving. You guys really meant so much to me. I don’t get upset about much, but this is certainly an exception. I have been a true music fan my entire life, and I can tell that you guys were too. That quality is truly a dying breed in Atlanta. Perhaps You guys were the last ones.

    Reply
  • 23. WarrenF  |  January 27, 2008 at 4:54 am

    Sean…not Shawn! Jamie are you sure you worked together? Or is that just Cledus rubbing off on you?
    Sean, great synopsis. Take care.

    Reply
  • 24. Joe  |  January 27, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Well damn.

    And I just thought I’d gotten over the fact that 99X was no more. I guess we all miss it more than we say… and now Sean goes and throws this down on us.

    Yeah, it was THE radio station in it’s day.

    I remember driving to work, and just being totally floored when the switch to 99X came. What was it? Seemed like a MONTH of the freshest, best music I’d ever heard.

    Certainly shaped my tastes… sadly no Atlanta station does that anymore.

    Reply
  • 25. Blanche  |  January 27, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for everything. I grew up WXRT in Chicago in the eighties, and when I moved, there was nothing on the radio to fill the giant hole. I lived in Seattle from 90-92 and KNND was great in its beginning, but then I moved to Atlanta in 92. When Power99 flipped, we ended up having an impromptu party in the restaurant I worked in. My staff was mostly 19-24, and people who weren’t even working were stopping by to make sure everyone else was listening. It was the only station to listen to for years. I loved it when Jonathan Brandmeier’s Jimmy finally got something better to do. I loved everything on The Steve Show, The Beat Factory, the Lounge, killing Will with a chainsaw on air, it was always something fun. You guys were fantastic, and even though it’s a cliche, 99X was the base of
    the soundtrack of my life from age 20 to now. It has been sad to watch it fade, but as long as it was there, there was a chance for it to come back.

    Thank you again for everything. All of you touched people’s lives and made them better in ways that can’t be counted. What you did mattered to a lot of people. I hope maybe that you’ll write more, your voice is dearly missed, and tell us about new bands that you’ve found, in all these years you’ve never steered me wrong (web short stack maybe?). Except for that time at the release party for Matthew Sweet’s Blue Sky on Mars when you tried to convince me that two tshirts was just as good as a free cd….

    I wish you and Jennifer the best and hope that we hear from you again in one way or another.

    I was 99X!

    Reply
  • 26. Nick Wright  |  January 27, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Sean,

    Thank you for the insight and the much-welcomed details. I must admit I was allowing myself to place much of the blame on the downfall on 99X on Leslie, which I can see now was extremely unfair. I should have figured that the overreach of corporate influence was to blame.

    You also brought up a strong point that I have been talking about for the past few days, and that is that 99X really didn’t play much new music in its latter days. I’m 28 and I started listening to the radio when I was 12 and Pearl Jam’s Ten hit. I still love the classic Alternative, but even I get tired of hearing “Closer,” “Jeremy,” and “Been Caught Stealing,” every single day. If 99X had been able to get back to the 50% new music content as it had in the 90’s, it might have been able to keep the interest of the public.

    Best of luck to you and yours, Sean, and thanks for the memories. Personally, I was pulling for “Bittersweet Symphony,” to be the last song played.

    Reply
  • 27. David Schroth  |  January 27, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Sean,

    You once put me on the air to request Fishheads during the Swingin’ Velveeta Lounge, an hour of my week that I looked forward to with great enthusiasm. I also once emailed you to ask the fate of Phone Boy, who moved onto greener pastures. I made noise for your return over on the boards at radio-info.com, and I enjoyed hearing you on the air again over the past year.

    Thank you for everything you did for the station, and for the many hours of entertainment you gave me over the years. It will never be forgotten, and has definatly influenced me in a positive way.

    Reply
  • 28. Ben Amos  |  January 27, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Sean,

    Thanks so much for being a mentor from both near and afar. From humoring a wet-behind-the-ears college jock by listening to my demo, to the many, many Fridays we spent hanging out during the Lounge, to being the only DJ in recent history to fix fire alarm equipment, you’re the best! Once you left NMX, there was no going back for me. I wish you and Jennifer the happiest of times. Stay cheesy!

    Reply
  • 29. keebler  |  January 28, 2008 at 8:01 am

    sd,

    I remember doing radio with you in SF. You were like Yoda (only taller and not green).
    Also, I think you had normal ears back then.

    ***BONUS STORY for Demery Die-Hards***

    One Friday night while working under Sean’s wing in SF, I thought it would be clever to do a “live remote broadcast” from a nearby neighborhood known for its lavish and lascivious nightlife. Cell phones had just become affordable and so I used my new Motorola to call the studio line where I was working. After patching the call through to the “on-air” feed and successfully setting the station’s automation system to fire off two songs in a row (Foo Fighter’s “Big Me” and Sparta’s “Cut Your Ribbon”) I left the place unattended and cruised six blocks to the corner of Grant and Columbus. Positioning my event on the air as a test of San Francisco’s reputation for hosting a rowdy world-class nightlife, I figured that once I began shopping around for trouble (gambling, drugs, prostitutes etc.) my escapade would actually have a small chance of becoming at least as entertaining as if I had been sitting in the studio for another five minutes “saying it while playing it”. Also, I knew that if I was going to face Sean at work the following Monday I was going to have to come up with something better to say than, “Well, I played all the music I had with me”. Anyway, I’m up there (six blocks away at the corner of Columbus and Grant) monitoring my broadcast on a handheld portable tuner when I heard a familiar three tone chime…
    “I’m sorry, if you would like to make a call, please hang up and try again”.
    This of course was followed by a few short clicks and probably a busy signal although I can’t be sure since I was running like a hot shit before I had a chance to find out. Two and a half minutes later (it was a downhill run) I blasted into the station out of breath. I quickly made a promise to my listeners that I would never again leave the station unattended unless there was a burning ambulance outside, in which case I would leave only for 60 seconds to go make s’mores.

    Upon hearing the details of this debacle Demery says to me with an effervescent underwater glow in his eyes, “BRILLIANT!”

    In ten years of working in radio I can’t name another person who would have responded this way to two and a half minutes of a telephone operator message and accompanying busy signal playing live on-air.

    Have fun and be good.
    -J

    Reply
  • 30. Steve Craig  |  January 28, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Shawn…
    (yes, kids… it was Shawn long before Sean!)
    You have been my best friend for 30 years, and I’m proud to have ridden on your coattails for the majority of that time! We have schemed, planned, hornswoggled and bluffed our way through many radio ventures, but everyone agrees that this was the greatest adventure of our lives. As images of those moments appear in my mind, tears flow and pride swells. I talked with you several times while you were writing this, but I had no idea it would all come together in such perfect form.
    We’ve hugged more than 2 heterosexual guys should ever be allowed to hug, but when I visit the “moose cabin” in a couple weeks… expect one that will last at least an hour.

    **applause sign is lit**

    I love ya, brother…
    Steve.

    Reply
  • 31. Justin Haygood  |  January 28, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    99X was the greatest station in Atlanta. It played the exact music I liked, which included some elements from mainstream rock (which is what Project 96.1 plays), some AC (like Dave FM 92.9), but it also played some of my favorite bands, like Silversun Pickups, etc..

    My name is Justin Haygood and I was 99X.

    Reply
  • 32. So long 99X at Justin Haygood’s Blog  |  January 28, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    [...] Sean Demery posted an update on the [...]

    Reply
  • 33. Mark  |  January 28, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Great article, very informative and well written. It is that kind of passion that made 99x so great. I was a recent college grad when power 99 switched over to 99x and it felt and sounded alot like the college radio I had been listening to for the previous five years…it’s great to hear how it all began. It’s sad that it is over but at least I have my collection of LiveX cd’s to listen to. Good luck in the future and thanks for the memories.

    Reply
  • 34. Tori Tarrant  |  January 29, 2008 at 1:38 am

    When Power 99 became 99x, I remember sitting around the school lunch table with my friends talking about how much we hated it. My friend Amy was saying something like “Where am I going to listen to stuff that I can dance to now?” Much to my dismay, 99x QUICKLY became my favorite station and has been my #1 preset on every radio I have owned since. I listened every day from the minute I got up until pretty much when I went to sleep at night. That is until Monday, January 14th. It sounds so cheesy, but I really miss 99x! Sirius radio should call Cumulus and tell them thanks, because they sent them another customer. Atlanta radio will never be the same with out you all! Sean, Leslie, and Steve, you will be missed!! Keep us up to date on your whereabouts.

    Reply
  • 35. Misti Estis  |  January 29, 2008 at 4:06 am

    Sean:

    I am one of the kids and teenagers that grew up and up until the recent changes have been loyal to Power 99 and the new 99X. I have been to Chinese New Year Concerts, Big Day Outs, Music Midtowns, and most currently the Mistle Toe Jam. Every time I sit around and think that the Mistle Toe Jam will be the last concert that I will be to that was hosted by the real 99X and will be the last concert that I will be to that will also be attended by Leslie and Steve, it gets to me. All of these 99X hosted concerts have all have a given appearance by Leslie and a gaggle of other jocks and is expected.

    I just recently moved back here and have done nothing but look forward to having my regular 99X programming and almost what I can call comfort music and insight. I have always looked to 99X for information on new bands and new styles of rock. I do not know what I am going to do for that now. I was totally shocked to turn on my radio that first morning and hear that there is no Morning X anymore. It took me a while to hear that Cumulus had let Leslie and Jenners go. That totally upset me. Then I hear later that they let Steve go. Between Steve and Leslie, they were what 99X always has been. I knew I could always turn on 99X during their programs and their familiar voice would come pouring out with their insight in tow. I guess I should have known there was something in the mix when I heard about the removal of The Retroplex. That was Steve’s baby and something that his great wisdom and colors shown through on. But little did all of the loyal listeners know, that was just the beginning.

    I do not know what the airwaves in Atlanta is going to do now. I read one comment on Steve’s Myspace page from a guy that hoped that Atlanta would not really turn into the true “Crunk Capital” now that 99X has been taken off of the air. I have to agree with him. It has to make me wonder what some of the bands that have had some of their starts on 99X will think about the changes. I know that I have read many comments from the listeners here in Atlanta and listeners from elsewhere, they are not in favor of Cumulus at this point. Who knows what tomorrow brings with technology and if there will at some point be common ground to have HD radios and internet readily available in all vehicles and we will all look back on this change and be okay with it. Everyone converted easily to 99X from Power 99 and may convert easily to this new form of what may become “The Norm”.

    You will be missed as you have already have. I was a loyal listener of any show you were on. You always gave me a good laugh along with useful or just plain good information. Like I have seen in many comments left on here along with on other sites for other 99X’ers long gone, I hope that you will keep us all informed on what you are keeping your hands in.

    Reply
  • 36. Chris Santoro  |  January 29, 2008 at 4:21 am

    Sean,
    I can’t thank you enough for the influence you have had on my musical interests over the years, when I was in school and just learning what I liked, “Shotgun Sean” was there making me feel like I had a friend in radio and then later on when my tastes were growing up 99X was there with great new music and programing. When my roommate Keith started working at the station on the morning show I got to know the station a lot better and met some great people there too. You and Axel were always my favorite jocks and even though Steve was not as “friendly sounding” I always looked forward to his shows. From the early days of my first Sonic Sunday to the first time you played Live (which changed my perception of music forever) to the all night “circuit” parties with Keith Eubanks and Yyvone to the sun filled all day concerts I will forever treasure the memories. Thanks very much, to you and Leslie and Rick and Steve and Axel and everyone else that made 99X what it was!
    -Chris

    Reply
  • 37. Cox  |  January 29, 2008 at 4:27 am

    I hope the new Q100 @ 99.7 tanks. People are starting to boycott it!

    Reply
  • 38. Kris  |  January 29, 2008 at 5:00 am

    You and 99x will be missed. The only way that 99.7 will be back on my radio is if 99x comes back! I can’t believe they thought that Q100 would give us what we need.

    Reply
  • 39. Leigh  |  January 29, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    What can I say? When I think back about being in high school and college, I think about 99x. It was a part of everyday life for me and most of my friends. I still can’t believe it’s gone. I absolutely loathe the “pop drivel” as you call it. Isn’t there enough of it already? Why the hell did we need another crap radio station? Someone else commented that it was “the soundtrack to our lives” which I thought was the perfect way to say it. 99x will forever be sorely missed. Good luck to you and thank you for everything.

    Reply
  • 40. Robert Mays  |  January 29, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Hey Sean!
    Back in 1994 you were a really cool guy who actually gave me the time of day to put together my first air-check. As a result of that I found my first job. It wasn’t at 99X though me and everybody else I knew always hoped it would be. But anyway 14 years later I do imaging for a cluster of stations in San Francisco.
    I’m kicking myself that I didn’t contact you while you were programming Live105.
    Anyway, thanks for helping me when you didn’t have to.

    Robert
    PS- Live105 is boring sounding now. They could use your help again.

    Reply
  • 41. Rob  |  January 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks Sean. No one could have summed this history better. What I think stinks most about 99x’s changes and end are that the big corporations don’t see or don’t care about the people’s comments. I really do believe that had someone listened and 99x kept playing new music and kept being a trend setter for the young people of Atlanta, they would have kept racking in the dough.

    WFNX in Boston has been around for over 20 years being at the fore-front of new Rock music. People listen, and advertisers pay for space.

    I truly hope another encarnation of 99x springs up soon. We will miss you and the others that made it great. We’ll also miss the new music in out cars like I know you will.

    Reply
  • 42. Julie  |  January 29, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Sean!

    You are so missed here in Atlanta. I hated the day that you said goodbye, but I knew it was coming since you had not been on air for several days. But, I digress. I was a listener of 99x from day one when the format switched over. I listened up until the very end when Q100 took over the signal. I hate that the station is gone along with some of my very favorite people to listen to. Have a great life and I am so glad that I found your blog!! Thanks for the history.

    Jules

    Reply
  • 43. Michelle  |  January 29, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Sean, thanks for this. I’m old enough now to know that whenever a big radio station switches format, it happens in a flash and there’s a ton of outraged screaming that ends up having no effect whatsoever. I think radio execs must stick their fingers in their ears and go “LA-LA-LA-LA” for a month solid after flipping the switch on something like this. A shame; if they listened they might learn something.

    I was a 99X listener from 1993, when I was 17, until I moved away from ATL in 1999. I loved it so much then. Listening to 99X made me cooler than I would’ve been otherwise–period! And informed my idea of what good radio should sound like. I was left cold by other stations’ versions of 80s retro—I’d bet money that Resurrection Sunday never once played a Huey Lewis track. Other cities’ “alt” stations were nothing but loud angry tuneless buttrock along Limp Bizkit lines, none of the collegey/indie/girly stuff you guys mixed in to keep things fresh. And sure as hell none of those other stations had The Pleasure Dome or the LiveX Friday shows. (I still have my Live X II CD.)

    I’m 31 now. Your note on Arcade Fire, Silversun Pickups, Spoon, etc., hit close to home—sounds a lot like what we hear here in Philly on WXPN. Member-supported, no ads, NO SUITS. Not focus-grouped to within an inch of its life. I wonder if that’s the only way to run a half-decent FM station anymore? And is it a coincidence that stations like WXPN and WEXP inspire brand loyalty and listener devotion that a lot of traditional FM stations could only dream of?

    I haven’t been in 99X listening range for years but I’ll always look back fondly—it really *was* the soundtrack to my life for a while there. Thanks for giving it a proper eulogy. And thanks for all the good tunes.

    Reply
  • 44. Nancy  |  January 30, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Sean, You were missed the first time you left and now your double missed. Your take on the matter is a masterpiece! Your passion for music is inspiring! And since the demise of 99x, my radio is a shell of it’s former rockin’ self. We are the same age, and it’s nice to know that there are other people out there that aren’t trapped in the “oldies” closet , feel free with thier musical tastes and aren’t afraid to dive in and enjoy something new and fresh. I miss your short stacks and your GUST for the ROBUST! Good luck with life!

    Reply
  • 45. Chris  |  January 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    “They couldn’t understand what bands like the Shins, Silversun Pickups, Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, The Bravery, Interpol, Spoon, Against Me, Rise Against, etc had to do with 99X.”

    And THAT is why I’m reactivating my satellite radio. Those bands are exactly what I want to hear, and Dave FM and 99x do play some of them from time to time, but they’re buried underneath playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Man in the Box” for the eleventy billionth time on 99x and Dave buries it under too much 80s nostalgia.

    There isn’t a single radio station that plays music for the 18-34 crowd that’s not angsty as hell (Project 96.1) or not all “hey, remember Tears for Fears??” (Dave) or Top 40 crap. 88.5 and 91.1 (Georgia State and Georgia Tech’s stations, respectively) are ok sometimes, but like all college radio stations, they’re too spastic and strange for their own good sometimes.

    I really did grow up listening to 99x, and I can’t thank you guys enough for molding my musical tastes through my early years. I was sad to see it go, but it really had slipped into irrelevance. You guys were the best and you’ll always have a special place in my memory.

    Reply
  • 46. Bill  |  January 31, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Since you have provided such an eloquent and professional response to the 99x shuttering, I will refrain from viciously attacking Cumulus. I moved to Atlanta over twelve years ago, and have spent many commuting hours listening to you and others on 99x. I could not believe it when Cumulus abruptly yanked the morning show and prepared to shut down the station. I think they are blowing a great opportunity to maintain a satisfied listener base Advertisers constantly cherish. For those of us who don’t like Satellite radio, the best option appears to be more iPod use in the car.

    I know C* blames the Internet, (moon phases, weather, etc.) for the reduced ratings of 99x. However, I think it was the combination of technology advances in small hard drives and flash memory allowing for reliable, low cost devices like the iPod. Plus, the rapid pace of iPod integration offered by the Auto industry. Looking past the format changes and consulting hell of management by meetings and consensus, those technology changes did have an negative affect on 99x. Unfortunately, Cumulus does not understand 99x thrived in mid to late 90’s. A period of time with explosive growth in Internet usage, wide spread music distribution, and the rise of Napster. Despite those three factors 99x continued to do well.

    I have listened to the new online format from 99x.com and considering if an upgrade to HD radio is worth while. Once again I am seeing a large company blow a major opportunity. They take one of the best stations off (legacy) frequency and offer it via HD or Internet only, but do not offer any type of HD device purchase promotion. Especially in a city with one of the longest average commutes in the country. After all of the marketing with Best Buy, what possessed them to miss something like that. I think it demonstrates a lack of commitment to the radio format. It also demonstrates the haste in which this decision was made. Finally, the treatment of on air personalities during this transition really seems unprofessional.

    Oh well, Sean if you are interested in monetizing your site and blog; I have a lot of ideas for you to consider.

    Reply
  • 47. BTW  |  January 31, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Now that the Honey Bee situation is showing some improvement. Here is another eco problem to research. Bats. Yes, hibernating bats are the North East are dying in large numbers. There is an unknown illness that at a minimum displays the symptom of a white ring around the bats nose. No one has determined what causes the illness, much less how to treat it. Expect a large decline in the bat population this winter.

    No doubt some will ask “who cares about a bunch of bats?” Yet, a small mammal dying in large numbers from an unknown illness near our homes should probably be at least a small concern.

    Reply
  • 48. Karina  |  February 2, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Sean & all those in the 99x family —

    … thank you for everything! Thank you for officially welcoming me to Atlanta. I had been a 99x listener since my move from NYC in 1995 and I am so sad to see it go. A million thanks… plus one.

    – ps – it’s quite upsetting having to start you car, with your car stereo preset to 99.7, being conditioned to think you’ll possibly be listening to Staind, and the first thing you hear is “… she moves her body like a cycloneeeeee…” — I miss you all already.

    Reply
  • 49. Nikki  |  February 3, 2008 at 5:10 am

    I came of age on 99X. I remember the morning the format changed. When I was in college, my LiveX CD’s were coveted by people who were not from Atlanta, who’d never heard such a thing before. I’d blast them out my windows.

    I’m so much more than sad to see the station go. I can’t believe that it’s over – it is such a crazy shame because I remember when the station was good and the music was sharp . . and I even stuck with it through most of what you refer to as the period where it turned too male. Radio in the ATL is a sad, sad place without Fram and Steve . . .

    Reply
  • 50. bmw  |  February 4, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Sean,

    Wow, did your comments bring back a feeling of pride, fear, and disillusionment in my gut. I think about the early days often, being a “student of Phippen” myself, and one of his most fascinated followers — as you know. Although I was put in the background in 1993, shortly after Bill died (and, although I respect your comments about Mr. Renier, I respectfully – and strongly – disagree), I was out there and have been. And don’t be so humble….you were an important part of the revolution — along with Fast Freddie Luka (every time I see a black NSX I think of him!), Rick, Leslie, and yes, the spirit of Bill.

    I’m rambling, but wanted to reach out, say hi, and let you know how much I enjoyed your thoughts. They really hit me where I didn’t expect to be hit, but in a good way. BTW, I have a lifesize cutout of Stacy in my attic. Remotes??

    Hope you’re well!
    BMW

    ps..for another foray into the past, check out this clip of Phippen pulling the switch on WARM…The Birth of Power 99. Wow again.

    http://www.grhof.com/GRHOF%20VIDEO%20ARCHIVES.htm

    Reply
  • 51. GRABBINGSAND / Obscuriosity: Week 5 (High Nineties)  |  February 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    [...] Demery, one of the standard bearers of 99X, has established a one-post blog to tell the story of how 99X started, how it grew and how it faded. As I told a friend this weekend, I love it when people use the blogging medium this way. The [...]

    Reply
  • 52. Jaymi  |  February 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Sean, you rock. I miss 99x so much…mainly because nowhere else around here did I get the mix of alt music I loved with people who were genuinely cool! When 99x went off the air I turned, reluctantly to a new morning show where I could hear the music I wanted. Unfortunately, it comes with a pair of smug, crotch-grabbing, racist a-holes for hosts. You and Jenners and Leslie made mornings fun, made the music fun, and everybody was brought along for the ride. You’ll be missed.

    Please keep us all up on what you are doing now.

    Reply
  • 53. Jacob  |  February 8, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Shawn,

    Thanks for all the years of great music, community, and memories that you have given us. Your voice will always stick in my head – I hear it even now though I haven’t been in Atlanta nor heard 99X since 2000. I was with you and your famous crew since the beginning of Power 99. As such, I am feeling very depressed today upon reading this news. Great luck to you in the future my friend.

    Jacob

    Reply
  • 54. Ari  |  February 20, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Sean,

    I am a little late in reading this, but I will put this in relatively few/simple words – thank you very much for putting this together.

    I moved to Atlanta in ’91 at 9 years old and remember the tail end of Power 99 and growing up with 99X. I have always had a special bond with the station (and would occasionally e-mail management with my useless input). But I have never been treated to anything like this before. I really appreciate your commentary and “biography” on the life of 99X.

    It was a great run – thanks for all the memories.

    – ari

    Reply
  • 55. Will O'Connor  |  February 20, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Sean,

    Even with my own recent relocation out of Atlanta, the happenings of the past few months have left me sick. I have been an avid listener since 92 and have grown up listening to 99x. It was you Leslie, and Steve that have shaped the better part of my current music preference. Not to discredit Top40, but I personally (as do most REAL music fans) do not find it in any way fulfilling. Good luck in your current and future endeavors. You and 99X will be greatly missed.

    On a personal note……..if you EVER find yourself on a South Florida station, you will have one huge fan. No matter what the format!

    Reply
  • 56. Derek  |  March 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I’m a late comer, but I’m damn glad I read this.

    I grew up listening to Power 99 (caught the tail end) and 99X. The Swinging Velveeta Lounge was one of my favorite programs, along with the Barnes, Leslie and Jimmy Morning show, the House/Duplex of Retro Pleasure and in the earlier days “Fear of Music”.

    I’ve been waxing nostalgic while reading this article and that makes the grim reality of what became of the station that much harder to bear. So 99X still exists on internet radio as a vestige of it’s former self. It just isn’t the same – and internet radio is blocked at my office.

    Thanks for the memories and the insight – I had a blast listening to 99X most of the time and count myself lucky to have had it as my “young adult” station growing up.

    Reply
  • 57. Keith "Phoneboy" Cunningham  |  April 17, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Sean,

    You’re an artist. Reading your words was like watching my favorite movie. I smiled, laughed and wept. Thank you for everything! Especially the memories.

    Reply
  • 58. Allen  |  May 5, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    You know man.. I loved this… For alot of us, we grew up listening to you guys. I was in my car the day that WAPW went away. I was pissed, but was immediately a fan of 99x. I was not the candy music that our sisters were listening to. I went to three big day out and a Chinese New Year. I can honestly say for 8 years my radio rarely left 99.7. You, Leslie, Barnes, Axel, Jimmy and Steve are apart of Atlanta history. Here’s to the good ole days!!

    Reply
  • 59. Tom Barnes  |  June 5, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Sean

    Great to see you blogging! BTW– wasn’t there an “unnamed consultant” involved in the launch of 99x? ;) I failed history.

    Hope you are loving Park City.

    Reply
  • 60. Troy Coverdale  |  June 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Sean, I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning in northern Colorado, enjoying another edition of “Organic” online, as has become my weekend tradition…A search brought me here.

    I came of age in the radio business just as you, Leslie and the rest were bringing 99x to life. In fact, I first heard the station in December of 1993, when I was in Atlanta for the “Winter Baseball Meetings”. I whiled away many hours that weekend just listening on my Walkman to many of the songs I had been spinning on the college station at Kansas State.

    But it was the approach–the presentation, the attitude, the knowledge–that made it work. I tip my cap to all of you for putting 99x together and proving it could work.

    Reply
  • 61. Ray Pippin  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I will never forget The Swinging Velveta Lounge or The Verve. Those were some good times.

    Reply
  • 62. David Bachmann  |  July 30, 2008 at 2:03 am

    I don’t know what took me so long, but I finally tracked you down. ;-)

    I am still steaming over the loss of 99X, but yes, it was losing itself. I understand the changing times, but Rock100? It’s a mixture of alternative and classic rock, while Project 9-6-1 is a mixture of alternative and heavy metal. Bleh. I want my alternative (and ONLY alternative) rock back. I had my suspicions of something bigger when you were leaving, but not THAT big. You were always one of my favorite DJs and I’ll miss your wacky style… even the bullhorn. :)

    If you can find “Tank!” by Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts, it’s a great tune (from an anime show: Cowboy Bebop) that always reminds me of one of the best radio shows ever, The Swining Velveeta Lounge! God, I miss those days.

    I hope that you enjoy it and that you’re doing well. Take care.

    Oh wait… After I missed the first 3/4 of the concert due to traffic (*@!#&$!), I keep lookin’ for more southeastern tour dates for the Silversun Pickups. But due to the sad state of alternative music, I doubt they’ll return unless the band puts out another album. Do you know if they’re working on another one? Keep on swingin.

    Reply
  • 63. Mark  |  August 6, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Was in Atlanta 2 months of the year from 95 to 98. 99x was king and was responsible for most of my CD collection that no one hear in Ireland has ever heard off. I just got broadband and the first radio station i wanted to listen to was 99x…mmm, something not quite right i thought to myself, where’s Axel, Barnes, Leslie & Jimmy….Sorry its all gone….you guys were great

    Reply
  • 64. Bill Phippen  |  September 15, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Great piece on the station. I never knew what the story was after my uncles passing. The support from the Atl radio community was unbelievable at his funeral. Thank you for the kind words. Uncle was the best and you were all great people when we met.

    Reply
  • 65. Brian  |  October 12, 2008 at 6:50 am

    In the 90s, I was living in Nashville, Tennessee. “What the heck does this have to do with 99X?” you ask. Hold tight. I’m getting there. Being only 4 hours from Atlanta, I would often take weekend trips down, and 99X was the soundtrack to each and every great weekend I spent there. Back in Nashville, I worked in a building which couldn’t get local radio reception at all, so I turned to the internet, where I could listen to 99X via a live stream. Barnes, Leslie and Jimmy greeted me each morning, Steve Craig’s Retroplex got me through until lunch time (remember, Nashville is an hour behind Atlanta), and on crazy days that I wound up working late, the evening shows kept me company. Thanks to 99X, I knew more about the traffic on the GA400 and at Spaghetti Junction than I did the traffic in my own city.

    It’s 2008 now, and I live in Chicago. And with the demise of 99X, I worry for the future of the equally legendary Q101.

    Even though I lived in Nashville, I was 99X.

    Reply
  • 66. Brian  |  December 27, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Now that nearly a year has passed since 99X was finally put out of its misery, it’s clear from the ratings that Cumulus was absolutely correct in removing the station from 99.7 and replacing it with Q100. The new Rock 100.5 has also fared well, much due to the return of The Regular Guys.

    Ditching the Susquehanna-approved version of the new 99.7 back in 1992 rightfully cost Rick Stacy his job. That was an $11 million radio station, and upper management didn’t appreciate Stacy’s rogue approach to programming their signal. Demery and Fram got lucky that they weren’t canned too.

    Obviously 99X struck a chord with its listeners for 6 or 7 years, but the station should have been blown up in favor of Q100 a good five years ago. Over the long haul, what is considered in marketing and attitude to be non-commercial music will not thrive at commercial radio. 99X only worked because Top 40 radio had become crap in 1992. Now, any music that is commercially viable (read: any good), from rap and hip-hop, to R&B and pop, to rock and punk, can all be heard on Q100.

    Reply
  • 67. Vutattedy  |  December 10, 2009 at 4:19 am

    Fantastic issue, didn’t thought reading this would be so cool when I looked at your link!!

    Reply
  • 68. Jeremy Kennedy  |  November 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Sean,
    I stumbled on this reading my way through 99x’s article at wikipedia.org

    Great account of the inside and outs of how 99x became Atlanta’s most successful alternative station of all-time. I was a big fan of Power99 in the late ’80s and still have some of my Major Tom weekend Power Jams on tape.. priceless 12” mixes of songs that have never been played again on Atlanta radio (“Fading away” by Will to Power, for example).
    Sean, do you remember the first song played on 99x on 10/26/92 that morning? It was the Buggles’ “Video killed the radio star” and I was on the phone with Leslie that morning making that request…. I felt that MTV’s debut was the biggest event of the ’80s and 99x was the biggest event of the ’90s. If the Buggles could serve MTV well, then they could serve 99x well. By the way, check out “Produced by Trevor Horn” DVD concert film. The Buggles reunite and pull off one of the most anticipated live performances in new wave.

    I appreciate you sharing your Power99 / 99x memories with us. Today I write for 99x.com to protect the retro enthusiastic since the legendary Steve Craig migrated to NY. There is a new retro show, but I just can’t grip Tonic and Smashing Pumplins as being retro….
    Cheers and blessings,
    Jeremy Kennedy – Atlanta GA

    Reply
  • 69. 泳鏡  |  December 9, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks I finally came to a website where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so irritating having to go through page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of owners just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thanks for the information anyway, much obliged.

    Reply
  • 70. Scott  |  March 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    99X was the sountrack to my adolescent, highschool, and college years. I remember listening live in 1992 when Power 99 changed to 99x. I was 11 and my sister was 14. The programming was always entertaining. I moved to Seattle and a few radio stations are very good, but none as memorable as 99x. Thanks for the many years of entertainment and backround noise 99x. I’ll never forget you!

    Reply
  • 71. baidu456  |  September 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    very nice

    Reply
  • 72. 99X Atlanta Is No More; The Bone Debuts  |  September 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    [...] A radio station that was a staple for me in the 90′s back in Australia was 99X Atlanta, Leslie Fram; the PD was an amazing woman, and an even better programmer, I lorded People like Steve Craig (this guy send me stickers & CD’s and just made me want to be a better broadcaster)  & Sean Demery (an amazing programmer in his own right) A very sad day for a radio station that inspired me to continue in the business, In fact if you want to read up on the history of 99X have a look at this post from Sean’s Blog in 2008 [...]

    Reply
  • 73. liz  |  March 9, 2013 at 11:41 am

    bittersweet symphony ALWAYS reminds me of you, sean! i have great memories of the swinging velveeta lounge, the house of retro pleasure, the halloween party at the airplane hangar with the cramps, and of course, “wilimus pendarvical!”

    Reply

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