I recently turned my radio dial to 97.1 FM "The River" and got a bit of a surprise.
The station that usually plays the same songs by The Eagles, Elton John (from the 1970s) and Journey over, and over, and over again, was playing U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." A day later, Blondie's "One Way or Another" was playing across the station's airwaves.
Why is this so significant, you might ask?
Well, this is the station that plays the same songs by The Eagles, Elton John (from the 1970s) and Journey over, and over, and over again. Playing something that strays from that sound is so revolutionary.
It's so daring.
It's so unexpected.
It's so 99X.
The semi-late 99X ended more than 15 years on the FM dial a month ago. It's now only available on high definition (HD) radio, and on the Internet.
I'm still a little bummed by the station's end. It's kind of like the feeling Atlanta Thrashers fans are probably experiencing because of the trading of Marian Hossa to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I see the new songs on "The River" as a sign that the scramble to pick up 99X's listeners is forcing some Atlanta radio stations to modify their playlists. These stations want to capture those listeners, but recognize they have to give the listeners something to entice them to come on over. The stations have to give something, to get a little bit of love.
DaveFM (92.9 FM) broadcast shout-outs to 99X beginning the day the alternative station went off the FM dial. Since then, you occasionally hear stuff from The Shins, and Modest Mouse, both of which were staples on 99X in recent years.
Rock 100.5 FM, the station 99X owner Cumulus brought in to replace the alternative station, is even playing rock from the 1990s. This is significant because the station tries to pitch itself as a classic rock station, which means it's focus should be on rock from the 1970s, and 1980s. You shouldn't be hearing Lenny Kravitz's "Fly Away" played side-by-side with The Who's "Teenage Wasteland."
Perhaps this is the ultimate irony in 99X's FM demise. It was taken off the air because of waning ratings, and because some corporate suits thought alternative was dead.
Alternative may not be as dead as they thought, though.
When 99X went off the air, I thought I'd never find another station which could fully replace it. No station has really filled the void, but DaveFM has helped make the hole a bit shallower. It's not as edgy as I'd like a radio station to be, and I have to put in CDs sometimes to get my fill of groups, such as The Killers and Silverchair, but DaveFM does nicely.
It's not the Silversun Pickups, but it's not Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, either. It's a cheap thrill for me. I take what I can get these days.
I'm still waiting for the next great alternative rock station, which will hopefully resurrect the genre's presence in Atlanta, and prove all of 99X's naysayers were wrong.
In the meantime, I am taking joy in the knowledge that 99X's legacy can still be heard on the FM airwaves.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.