What did Atlanta radio stations play 25 years ago this week and what were the top rated stations in 1994? 

Originally posted Friday, July 26, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

I’m a radio geek, as my long-time readers well know by now. This story provides plenty more evidence. 

Radio & Records was a trade publication that covered the radio business in detail for decades until 2009. Most issues are available for free online

I decided to see what were the popular songs from the trade publication 25 years ago this week from some of the primary radio stations of that era including Kicks 101.5, 96rock, 99X, Star 94, V-103 and Y106. I had moved here just four months earlier. 

And the then-Arbitron quarterly diary ratings happened to be out that week as well. Below are the top stations from the spring of 1994, when Atlanta had far less competition than it does today. Two stations hit double digits in share: R&B V-103 at No. 1 and country station Kicks at No. 2. 

Of the top five stations, three (V-103, B98.5 and WSB-AM) are still regulars in the top five. Kicks has not been a top five station in years while soft pop Peach 94.9 no longer exists (it’s now country). The top rock station - 99X - was hitting its stride, beating 96rock (now Power 96.1). Star 94 was a solid eighth, followed by country station Y106 (now K-Love), R&B Kiss 104.7 (now Kiss 104.1).

Oldies Fox 97.1 (now rock station the River) was No. 11, followed by news/talk 640/WGST at No. 12 and classic rock Z93. At the time, WGST also had an FM simulcast which received ratings but were separated. If combined, WGST would have been in seventh place. Sports (WCNN-AM) was at the bottom of the list with just a 1.0.

And what were the top music stations playing? The radio stations that played new music provided biggest spins each week to the publication, which printed them.

Here are six I found from the July 29, 1994 episode. (Stations that played oldies or avoided currents like Fox 97.1, Z93, B98.5 and Peach 94.9 were of no concern to Radio & Records, which catered to the music industry trying to sell new records.)

V-103 in 1994 didn’t play rap outside of nights and weekends. Hot wouldn’t debut in a year and eventually forced them to play rap 24/7. Jodeci was super hot and had the No. 1 song on the station. Note: three R. Kelly songs were on the playlist, more than any other artist. 

That week in top 40, Atlanta rock-pop band Collective Soul had Star 94’s most popular song with “Shine.” Star was always considered one of the “softer,” less rhythmic top 40 stations around and this list indicates that. Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around” was No. 1 nationwide but was only the 28th most spun song on Star that week. Songs by Aaliyah, Babyface and All-4-One were in the national top 40 airplay top 30 but not on Star’s.

Two previous top 40 stations (Z93 in 1989 and 99Q in 1992) had switched to rock and that left Star as the lone top 40 in Atlanta at the time. In 1999, the now defunct 95.5/The Beat came along as a rhythmic top 40. Star wouldn’t face a more traditional top 40 station until Q100 debuted in 2001. Later came Power 96.1 in 2012 while B98.5 became more upbeat around that time as well.

99X was, as noted, a rising star in the alternative world in 1994 as it entered its second full year in that format. 

I know alternative rock fairly well but the top two most played songs are by acts I barely recall: the Dambuilders and Velocity Girl

But there are plenty of alt-rock ‘90s staples on the list including Live’s “I Alone” (No. 3), Offspring’s “Come Out and Play” (No. 4), Stone Temple Pilot’s “Interstate Love Song” (No. 7), Green Day’s “Basket Case” (No. 10) and Offspring’s “Self Esteem.” (No. 14). 

96rock remained a traditional rock station and was not heavily focused on currents. Only a dozen current songs were played 10 or more times. Singles by classic rock acts Boston, Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones and John Mellencamp  were spun at least 20 times. 

There were two country stations, one more current (Kicks) and one skewing older (Y106, which would later become Eagle.)

Both had Newnan native Alan Jackson at the top with “Summertime Blues” and their playlists weren’t that different. Some of the biggest acts of the 1990s were on both charts including Sammy Kershaw, Diamond Rio, Clay Walker, Clint Black, Tracy Lawrence, Randy Travis and Wynonna

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About the Author

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