Catching up with the former members of 99X’s Morning X

Leslie Fram, Steve Barnes and Jimmy Baron back in the heyday of the Morning X in 1996. CREDIT: Charlotte Teagle/AJC

Leslie Fram, Steve Barnes and Jimmy Baron back in the heyday of the Morning X in 1996. CREDIT: Charlotte Teagle/AJC

Originally posted August 27, 2010 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

For much of the 1990s into the early 2000s, one of the most influential and popular morning radio shows in town was the Morning X on alternative rock station 99X.

Nearly seven years has passed since Leslie Fram, Steve Barnes and Jimmy Baron shared a studio, providing Atlantans a daily dose of water-cooler buzz and an upbeat sensibility that personified the era.

There were funny scams (Leo DiCaprio’s answering machine and the fake Hanson brothers come to mind), and notable interviews (Courtney Love, the Dalai Lama.)

Then as Q100’s Bert Show and 96rock’ss Regular Guys siphoned fans and ratings dropped, the Morning X lost its mojo. In October, 2003, Barnes left and the Morning X was no more. Fram and Baron stuck around a few years longer, but it was never the same.

Here’s a quick recap on what they’ve been up to:

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Steve Barnes

As air traffic controller, he infused the show with a frat-boy insouciance. After 99X, he pursued acting and movie production.

In mid-2004, new rock station 92.9/Dave FM gave him a morning host job with Holly Firfer. It didn’t take. Two years later, he was let go. (Barnes later said he felt hamstrung by management.)

More recently, he created a soap series “High Rise, which aired on Comcast on Demand last year. Season two, he said, is set to air on WAGA-TV next year, with ten half-hour episodes.

He’s still open to radio: “I’ve had opportunities to do radio in other cities, but I don’t want to leave Atlanta. And since I’m divorced with kids, I’d hate to move elsewhere.”

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Jimmy Baron

On air, he pumped Morning X with wisecracks and George Costanza-esque self deprecation. As a producer, he did a lot of heavy lifting nabbing guests and prepping material.

He left 99X in 2006 over pay issues but couldn’t find a radio job for three-plus years. At one point, he hosted trivia nights at local bars.

But last summer, Dave FM paired him with fellow 99X alum Yvonne Monet.

“I’m extremely happy now,” he said. Toward the end of 99X, he said he felt old compared to its target audience. At Dave, the recently divorced Baron feels the listeners better match his lifestyle: “I love talking to people with kids and mortgages.”

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Leslie Fram

On the Morning X, she was the voice of reason and referee between Baron and Barnes.

A decorated program director, Fram led 99X until its initial demise on 99.7 in early 2008.

But she quickly found a new job in New York City as program director of WRXP-FM, a new rock station which blends harder-edged oldies (AC/DC, Metallica) with current acts (Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend).

Fast-paced New York fits her workaholic ways perfectly. Like at 99X, she co-hosts mornings, works all day and attends concerts at night. “I love living in the city,” she said.

But her old station isn’t far from her mind: 99X alums Decker and Steve Craig work there, too.

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