It shouldn't be a big deal. It's a business move by Cumulus media. I shouldn't be bothered.
It's just a radio station and, until just yesterday, I thought it was going to be just another of those trivial events in local media that usually pass me by. That's not the case, though. My general contempt for popular culture notwithstanding, I find I have some very mixed and some very powerful feelings about today.
99.7fm, WNNX-Atlanta, Everything Alternative Ninety-Nine X, goes off the air today. Sure, they're going to soldier on as an internet and HD station but their days as a staple of Atlanta broadcast are over. Though I cajole myself for an emotional attachment to such a thing, I'm going to be very sorry to witness such an important symbol of my formative years silenced.
Before they were 99x, they were Power99 and they were the only ATL station I took a liking to when I moved here as a frustrated and hateful eleven year old.
I remember the day the first Iraq war ended. Power99 played the song "Celebrate," the same one that's gotten so tiresome at weddings, for two solid hours.
99.7 sponsored my first concert when I was twelve and at least two dozen more in the intervening years.
I was still in junior high when they shifted format from the new wave/technopop playlist to the alternative rock format of 99x, back when "alternative rock" still meant something, back when Nirvanna, Pearl Jam and Sound Garden were just getting ready to make headlines, when most rock stations were dominated by guys who permed their hair and dressed in spandex.
It's one of two local radio stations for which I can always remember the name, frequency and call letters and it's been the first station I've programmed into the radio of every car I've ever owned.
It's so staid to say but that station was, in a very real way, the voice of my generation. Anyone my age that grew up in suburban Atlanta knows that station and can sing along with nearly every song on it's playlist. This was the music that we all listened to through high school and college, the songs that played in the background behind so many of our lives' firsts.
There it was, just now: 0528 EST, 1/25/08
They played the oh-too-obvious Green Day song, the one I first heard on that station. The one that made us all go, 'excuse me, who? Doesn't sound anything like them.' I remember the day, driving my Camaro along Post Oak Tritt road not far from my old house, on the way back from a line rehearsal at Katie D's house. Strange that I should remember that song on that particular day but that is just how important some of that music has become.
And then, silence. A long deep silence as they switched over to the simulcast of the sister station that will now be appropriating the frequency.
All things must fade, I suppose and it does me little good to get so worked up over it. That last song hit it right on the head. So, thank you to 99x and to everyone who has been a part of it. Thank you for being there as I grew up. Thank you for shaping my taste and for sucking so much less than every other station on the Atlanta dial.
I hope you had the time of your life.