99X brings back a name from the early days: Will Pendarvis



Will Pendarvis, the original evening jock at 99X from 1992 to 1995, is returning to the station after 28 years.

99X morning hosts Leslie Fram and Steve Barnes Tuesday announced the news.

On Friday, the station confirmed he will take over for Axel Lowe, whose last day is Friday, March 31, as afternoon host from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and he will also become assistant program director. Lowe had been program director as well as afternoon host.

“Will will bring some of his special spirit and weirdness back to the station,” said Brian Phillips, chief content officer. “He’s a profound air talent as opposed to a disc jockey.”

Pendarvis has spent nearly 20 years programming multiple rock stations for SiriusXM satellite radio out of Los Angeles. He is planning to move back to Atlanta.

On the call on 99X Wednesday, in an obvious bit, Pendarvis said he was looking forward to visiting Buckhead Diner, buying slacks at a Rich’s and going to the Georgia Dome. Barnes told him none exists anymore.

Pendarvis even got mock excited when he learned there is no longer a toll charge on Ga. 400.

“Piedmont Park is still around!” Fram said. “You’ll need a new tour of Atlanta.”

“Things have changed,” Barnes said.

Back in the day, Pendarvis was the wild and woolly night guy on 99X. He noted in a separate interview with Fram and Barnes Tuesday that he was an early fan of the Smashing Pumpkins and had lead singer Billy Corgan in the studio in their early days while they were recording an album in Atlanta.

He left 99X in 1995 to work at rock station DC101 in Washington D.C., then the legendary K-Rock in New York before landing at SiriusXM.

Despite losing Axel Lowe, an original jock on the station, 99X management has promised more jocks from the early days coming back down the road. Steve Craig, the midday host for 99X’s entire run, left 97.1/The River in December and is currently under a six-month non-compete clause.

Here is a bit of biographical background from a story the AJC wrote in 1994 about Pendarvis:

Pendarvis, who grew up in Irvington, Ala., outside Mobile, is himself a wanderer from the Southern woods who came to Atlanta to play more alternative music and live in a city that doesn’t shut down at 10 p.m.

Pendarvis is a combination of Christian Slater’s in-your-face attitude (remember the moody DJ from “Pump Up the Volume”?), David Letterman’s goofy, left-field humor and every confused and befuddled baby buster who’s ever sought sonic salvation.

“One night at midnight, he gave birth to puppies on the air in this long labor. It was a classic,” says Leslie Fram, part of 99X’s morning team and the person who gave Pendarvis his first job in radio at a Top 40 station in Mobile when he was 17. He made appearances as the station’s mascot, a giant rabbit with buck teeth.

He worked his way up to running the overnight show in Mobile, eventually dropping out of the University of Southern Alabama after two years to do radio full time. He then moved to Memphis, where he worked for a pop station for two years before coming to Atlanta in 1992.

Pendarvis proposed an alternative rock show at Power 99 that would feature music he liked ― the Cure, Elvis Costello, the Smiths, Depeche Mode. He hosted the program for a couple of months before the whole station switched over to the new format. “On the Edge” has evolved with the station, often reaching outside the standard alternative play list and including as much emphasis on the DJ’s shtick as listeners usually find on drive-time shows.

On and off the air, Pendarvis is alternately edgy and shy, depressed and giddy, confident and worried. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s battled depression his whole life. (He really is on Prozac, and talks about his experiences with the drug and depression on the air all the time.)

“If I wasn’t doing this I’d be working at a shoe store or something. I can’t do anything else,” says Pendarvis, who spends his off hours hanging with his girlfriend, Melanie Ferguson, playing Nintendo and eating at the Buckhead Diner.

Sitting in the booth one night, Pendarvis is a whirling dervish fueled by Classic Coke and Kools. His baby face and huge shirts ― he only shops at big-and-tall men’s stores even though he isn’t either ― make him seem younger than he is.

“I don’t usually say anything good about myself because I have really low self-esteem and I’m paranoid,” says Pendarvis nervously. “But I do think I do a good job with my music.” Besides alternative rock, he loves big band music, the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Occasionally he’ll slip some Tony Bennett into his show.