The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ has been playing since Friday evening in loop
Rock 100.5, starting Friday evening, began stunting by playing the Verve’s 1997 alternative rock hit “Bittersweet Symphony” in a loop with the verbal tease: “It’s coming. Same As It Ever Was. Monday 6 a.m.”
UPDATE Monday, December 5: The station is now 99X, playing classic alternative rock by acts from the station’s hey day including Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Collective Soul. The station is promising revamped on-air staff Jan. 3 so it’s going to just play music for the next month.
The tease implies that the rock station might launch a 99X-related revival Monday since “same as it ever was” is a reference to a Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime.” (99X was once the dominant alt rock station in Atlanta from 1992 into the 2000s and now remains as a music-only new music station on 98.9 on a modest signal.)
Lance Venta, who covers radio for Radio Insight, said Rickman and Lyndsey Marie, the Rock 100.5 mid-day host, won’t be on the revamped station. Marie acknowledged her departure on Saturday on social media, noting, “I’ve loved talking to Atlanta for almost 12 years! I’m proud of the time we’ve shared together. And we had a lot of fun! If you made my little midday show any part of your day, I appreciate your company.”
Rickman has been part of Rock 100.5 since its debut in 2008.
Lowe has had some connection to both 99X and Rock 100.5 for most of the past 30 years. He is likely to stick around if Cumulus goes the 99X route. He was an afternoon host on 99X for almost its entire run from 1993 to 2008. He has also been music director at Rock 1005 while hosting afternoons with Rickman
Other potential available former 99Xers include Steve Barnes and Yvonne Monet, who is currently on sister station Q99.7.
Nine months ago, Rock 100.5 added syndicated morning show “Elliot in the Morning” and moved “Southside” Steve Rickman and Axel Lowe to afternoons.
Rock 100.5 boss Brian Phillips, who helped launch 99X 30 years ago, really liked Elliot Segal’s free-wheeling morning show, which didn’t follow a normal syndicated clock. Segments would go on until Segal felt like taking a break. Segal has been on DC 101 in Washington, D.C., since 1999.
But Atlantans didn’t take to it.
In October Nielsen ratings, the morning show ratings for Segal was a mere 0.7, tied for 27th place. Even among men 25-54, the target audience, his show was in 18th place with a 1.8 rating behind morning shows on Q99.7, B98.5, Praise 102.5 and Fish 104.7, which are more geared toward women.
In comparison, Rickman and Lowe were doing far better in afternoons. That personality-based local show was ranked 18th overall (1.8) and 10th place (4.3) among men 25 to 54.
Rock 100.5 as a station has a weaker signal than its closest rival 97.1/The River, which dominates the rock space in Atlanta and has been the No. 1 station in Atlanta overall for several months.
Sean Shannon, who has run Rock 100.5, said this move had nothing to do with Elliot’s skills as a radio host but simply an opportunity to take advantage of the pent-up demand for a station like the 99X of yore. He said he has nothing but the deepest respect for Elliot and hopes to find a place for him in the Cumulus family down the road.
The River’s ratings were six times bigger than Rock 100.5 in October, 8.4 to 1.4. In November, Rock slumped even more, falling to 1.2 while The River held its top spot with an 8.2.
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.