99X sees huge jump in ratings in its third month back on air



The revived version of the 1990s radio station is now in the top 10.

The resurrection of 99X has jumped into Atlanta’s top 10 in its third month since the surprise format change.

99X, an alternative rock station with original DJs Axel Lowe, Steve Barnes and Leslie Fram so far, has more than tripled the audience of what its predecessor Rock 100.5 was pulling in toward the end of its run late last year. The station ranked no. 9 in February’s Nielsen ratings with a 3.8 share.

Rock 100.5, which was airing a blend of classic and active rock, was ranked 24th with a 1.1 share in its final full month of existence.

Atlanta-based Cumulus Media changed the format after fans on social media reacted so positively to a 30th anniversary website of the launch of 99X in 1992. The station became a phenomenon in the 1990s, riding the alternative rock wave at the time and generating huge ratings and loyalty for its morning show and various personalities and events. It lost its mojo when alternative rock went harder in the 2000s and in recent years has been largely a ghost station on a minor signal.

Brian Phillips, who helped build 99X during its heyday, is now chief content officer for Cumulus and has been able to bring back several key players from the station’s heyday. 99X is currently playing the core hits from the 1980s into the early 2000s from the likes of the Talking Heads, R.E.M., Depeche Mode and Nirvana, but there are plans to start salting in more current tunes later in the year. The morning show is currently a blend of new material from Barnes and Fram and recycled classic bits that also featured Jimmy Baron.

So far, this burst of nostalgia is working even better in the core advertiser friendly demo of 25 to 54, where 99X is ranked No. 6 with a 4.6 share compared to a 1.5 share (20th place) for Rock 100.5 in its final month late last year. In the demo of men 25-54, 99X is ranked No. 4 with a 5.4 share compared to 1.8 share (20th place) for Rock 100.5.

Interestingly, 99X’s success has not impacted the popularity of 97.1/The River, which plays mostly classic rock. The River, which has been No. 1 for much of the past year, remained the top station in February with an 8.1 share overall and 840,000 unique weekly listeners. (99X, in comparison, had about 400,000 on a much weaker signal.) In December, The River lost its morning host Steve Craig, who spent 16 years at 99X as mid-day host. Craig has not said where he is going next but after a six-month non-compete clause is over, it’s possible he could very well land back at 99X himself.

R&B station Majic 107.5/97.5, which has been riding high for several months, was tops among 25-54 year olds with a 7.7 share. In that demo, the Steve Harvey morning show and Ryan Cameron’s afternoon shows are No. 1 as well.

Top 20 stations in February, 2023, format, share

1. 97.1/The River, classic rock, 8.1

2. Majic 107.97.5, R&B, 7.6

3. 95.5/750 WSB, news/talk 7.2

4. Kiss 104.1, R&B, 6

5. B98.5, adult pop, 5.8

6. V-103, R&B/hip-hop, 4.6

7. Fish 104.7, Christian pop, 4.1

8. Hot 107.9, hiphop, 4.0

9. 99X, alternative rock, 3.8

10. 90.1/WABE-FM, news/talk, 3.6

11. 94.9/The Bull, country 3.5

12. Q100, top 40, 3.3

13. Star 94, dance top 40, 2.9

13. Praise 102.5, gospel, 2.9

15. Power 96.1, top 40, 2.6

15. New Country 101.5, 2.6

17. Streetz 94.5, hip hop, 2.4

18. 92.9/The Game, sports talk, 2.3

19. K-Love 106.7, 2.0

20. 680/The Fan, 1.6

Top 10 morning shows, overall

1. WSB morning show (rotating hosts for now), 10.8

2. Steve Harvey, Majic, 8.6

3. The Bert Show, Q99.7, 6.4

4. 97.1/The River, 6.3

5. Tad, Drex & Kara, B98.5 5.4

6. Kevin & Taylor, Fish, 4.8

7. Morning Edition, WABE, 4.6

8. The Breakfast Club, 105.3/The Beat, 4.3

9. Frank Ski, Kiss, 4.1

10. The Jubal Show, Power, 3.2

Top 10 stations, 25-54

1. Majic, 7.7

2. River, 6.9

3. V-103, 6.1

4. B98.5, 5.8

5. Hot 107., 5.1

6. 99X, 4.6

7. Streetz 94.5, 4.4

8. Q99.7, 4.3

8. WSB, 4.3

10. Kiss 3.7

Top 10 morning shows, 25-54

1. Steve Harvey, Majic, 8.0

2. Yung Joc and the Streetz Morning Takeover, 7.9

2. The Bert Show, Q99.7, 7.9

4. WSB morning show, 6.0

5. Tad, Drex & Kara, B98.5, 5.8

6. The River, 5.6

7. Morning Edition, WABE 4.6

8. The Big Tigger Morning Show, V-103, 4.3

9. The Jubal Show, Power, 3.7

10. Kevin & Taylor, Fish, 3.4