Leslie Fram will officially re-join Steve Barnes on the revived Morning X show on 99X.
The announcement was made Monday morning.
Fram will keep her full-time job out of Nashville as senior vice president of music strategy for CMT and add on 99X duties. It took several weeks of negotiations to make the deal work for both sides.
She and Barnes will contribute original content from 7 to 9 a.m. weekdays while introducing “best of” clips from the first incarnation of the Morning X from 1993 to 2004 during the 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. hours The station the past few weeks has been largely airing “best of” clips from 6 to 10 a.m.
Fram not only was an integral part of the launch of 99X in 1992 and became a core team member of the morning show but also programmed the station for many years. ‘”How cool is it to be back on the original 99x?” Fram said on air Monday. “This is unbelievable!”
Brian Phillips, who helped create the original Morning X and is now chief content officer for 99X’s parent company Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, said the negotiations with CMT’s parent company Paramount were amicable to enable Fram to juggle two jobs. Fram will largely do the show from her farm in Nashville but will visit Atlanta for specific concerts and events.
The third member of the first Morning X Jimmy Baron is a successful full-time realtor and is unable to go back to 99X in any paid capacity. “He will appear from time to time when he has time,” Fram said.
99X, which original aired on the 99.7 signal from 1992 to 2008 and is now on 100.5, has seen a surge in listening since Cumulus switched formats in December, dropping its broad rock sound on Rock 100.5 in favor of a 1980s/90s blend of alternative rock from 99X’s heyday. (The station does plan to add more current alternative rock music down the road.)
Axel Lowe, an original 99X jockey, was already at Rock 100.5 as a program director and afternoon host. He returned to 99X to program the music and is back as the afternoon jock. The station this past Sunday also brought back Matt Jones for its weekly program Organic X, four hours of acoustic rock that was a staple in the 1990s and 2000s.
Barnes himself is juggling his own full-time job running a production company, which in part involves shooting videos for luxury hotels and resorts around the world. But thanks to modern technology, he can host the show from anywhere, he said.
Phillips said more talent is to come. Steve Craig, the original mid-day host at 99X, left rival rock station 97.1/The River in December. He has not announced any official plans to return to radio, but he could potentially join 99X once a six-month non-compete clause ends in May.
So far, listeners have been excited by the station’s return. The station’s monthly ratings jumped from a 1.1 share when it was Rock 100.5 in November, good for 24th place, to a 2.6 in January, up to 13th place.
“It’s a pop phenomenon,” Phillips said. “Everyone can feel it in the streets. Social media has been able to get the word out.”
He said resurrecting 99X has been like bringing a Broadway show back with the original cast a quarter century later.
“People like Barnes and Leslie are not coming back for the money,” Phillips said. “They’re doing this because they want to be a part of it and love it.”
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