Oldies 98.9 becomes older-skewing country NASH Icon 98.9

Atlanta-based Cumulus has turned its 98.9 signal into a format musical chairs.  Today, it changed to its fifth format in less than three years.

Most recently Good Time Oldies 98.9, it's now NASH Icon 98.9, an older-skewing country format and companion to Kicks 101.5.

So the Beatles, James Taylor and the Bee Gees have been thrown to the curb yet again.

With Cumulus pushing the NASH country brand nationwide, I thought they'd simply change Kicks to NASH, as they have on many of their country stations. That may still happen but for now, the NASH name is now attached to 98.9.

Kicks, the dominant country station in Atlanta for many years, has been getting beaten badly this year by 94.9/The Bull in the ratings. It's not clear how the addition of NASH Icons will tangibly help Kicks. In the latest monthly ratings, the Bull had its best ever month with a 6.3 share, tied for fourth in the market while Kicks pulled in a 3.6, tied for 12th place.

When Kicks was owned by ABC, then Citadel, the station had used Eagle 106.7 as a complementary country format. But when Cumulus purchased owned 106.7, it (ironically) switched to True Oldies. In 2012, that signal became All News, which is now a news/talk hybrid.

Oldies by acts like Willie Nelson are included on Nash Icon 98.9, which blends currents and older tunes similar to the way Eagle 106.7 did back in the 2000s. CREDIT: Getty Images

The 98.9 signal is three years old. It started in 2011 as the last home for 99X. In the fall of 2012, after Clear Channel blew up Project 96.1 for top 40 Power 96.1, Cumulus created 98.9/The Bone, an active rock format similar to what Project was playing. Despite passable ratings for a modest signal, that station lasted all of five months.

Management then inexplicably tried an unusual country/Christian format called the Walk that received almost no ratings at all. That station was on air for just six months.

So Cumulus last year switched it to True Oldies with Scott Shannon . That station made it about 10 months before Cumulus switched to Good Time Oldies June 28. That survived about seven weeks. Oldies averaged about a 0.8 share in its life at 98.9, which isn't half bad for such a limited signal.

This is the fourth time the oldies format has come and gone in Atlanta. Fox 97.1, the first one, was a huge top 5 station for a time and lasted 14 years (1989-2003) during the time when Baby Boomers were really attractive to advertisers. Cool 105.7 took over for two years, then there was a gap of three years with nothing. Cumulus brought on True Oldies 106.7 in 2008 and that format lasted for four years. After another year of no oldies in town, Cumulus gave True Oldies another shot on a much weaker signal at 98.9. As we know, that ultimately lasted less than a year.

Nash Icons is also a record label and joint venture between Cumulus and Big Machine Entertainment.

John Dickey, head of programming for Cumulus, said the station will be targeting a slightly older demo than the mainstream country stations, kind of like hot AC formatics for pop (think Star 94 or B98.5 vs. Power and Q100).  So similar to Star and B98.5, the station will play older cuts and mix them with compatible current songs.

Here's the Nash Icons Facebook page.  (UPDATE 8/26: Eleven days into its existence, this page has a mere 54 likes.) Twitter? 31 followers.

And a recent song history

A sampling of the format, which is apparently a blend of classics going back to the 1980s and currents.

7:36 a.m. Willie Nelson "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" (1980)

7:40 a.m. Luke Bryan "Play It Again" (2014)

7:43 a.m. Lady Antebellum "Love Don't Live Here" (2007)

7:46 a.m. Little Texas "What Might Have Been" (1993)

7:51 a.m. Faith Hill "Breathe" (1999)

7:55 a.m. Billy Currington "We are Tonight" (2013)

7:58 a.m. Carrie Underwood "Before He Cheats" (2006)

8:03 a.m. Mark Wills "19 Somethin' (2002)

8:07 a.m. Parmalee "Carolina" (2008)

8:10 a.m. Brad Paisley "I'm Gonna Miss Her" (2002)

8:13 a.m. Joe Nichols "Yeah" (2014)

8:16 a.m. Lorrie Morgan "What Part of No" (1993)

8:19 a.m. Kenny Chesney "I Go Back" (2004)

8:23 a.m. Tim McGraw "Meanwhile Back At Mama's" (2014)

8:27 a.m. George Strait "Blue Clear Sky" (1996)

8:31 a.m. Brett Eldredge "Don't Ya" (2012)

8:35 a.m. Garth Brooks "That Summer"(1993)

8:40 a.m. Keith Anderson "Pickin' Wildflowers" (2004)

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

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