Morning host Steve Craig leaves 97.1/The River after 10 years

He has not said where he’s going next, but 99X is hiring

Morning host Steve Craig has left classic rock station 97.1/The River after a decade there.

His name was taken off the 97.1/The River website schedule Wednesday without explanation. Rob Babin, executive vice president and head of radio at Cox Media Group, did not respond to a text seeing comment.

Craig confirmed the news via text Wednesday evening. “I’ve had an incredibly successful decade at 97.1/The River working with a pro team delivering a #1 radio station,” he wrote. “For now, I’m looking forward to more flight time and working with my board members at [charity] Angel Flight, along with attending long overdue vacation and family time.”

Indeed, the River ― which launched in 2006 ― has been No. 1 in the Atlanta radio ratings much of 2022, becoming one of the top-performing major market rock stations in the nation.

Craig, 63, joined the River in December 2012 as afternoon host and music director. He switched to mornings in 2016, swapping with Kaedy Kiely. He also ran a secondary station called The Other Side of the River, which provides deep alternative rock cuts from multiple decades. Craig as a host has brought a depth of musical knowledge that his fans have valued for decades.

He has also been the Atlanta United in-game announcer for many years. And he possesses a professional pilot’s license.

Before the River, Craig spent 16 years as mid-day host at 99X, the seminal alternative rock station in Atlanta until it was taken off the FM dial in 2008 by Atlanta-based Cumulus Media. He worked with Leslie Fram at a New York alternative rock station WRXP-FM for three years, then for a brief time toward the end of the life of rock station 92.9/Dave FM, which became a sports station 2012.

99X, which has been a jockless new music station on a minor signal for several years, earlier this month was revived on a bigger signal on 100.5, replacing Rock 100.5. The station, which is largely playing alternative rock from the 1980s to 2000s, is currently going without on-air staff but will unveil a lineup of jocks on January 3.

Brian Phillips, now chief content officer for Cumulus, helped launch 99X three decades ago. After the station posted online content celebrating the station’s 30th anniversary in October, the reaction from fans was so strong, management decided to bring back the 99X brand in all its 1990s glory.

Already, 99X alum Axel Lowe was at the station as Rock 100.5′s music director and afternoon co host. So he will remain. In fact, he is the only confirmed returning member of the station’s on-air staff but rumors have circulated regarding some semblance of a return of the the Morning X trio of Leslie Fram, Steve Barnes and Jimmy Baron.

All three already have current full-time jobs with Barnes running his own production company, Baron a successful realtor and Fram the head of music strategy at CMT in Nashville. But Barnes ran a podcast featuring Fram and friends that last taped an episode in May.

Craig’s departure from the River opens up the possibility of him returning to 99X after his contractual non-compete clause is over. (Typically, such clauses last six months though some talent can shorten that to 90 days.)