Posted: 1:40 pm Friday, August 15th, 2014

Oldies 98.9 becomes older-skewing country NASH Icon 98.9 

By Rodney Ho

Nash icon logoAtlanta-based Cumulus has turned its 98.9 signal into a format musical chairs.  Today, it changed to its fifth format in less than three years.

Most recently Good Time Oldies 98.9, it’s now NASH Icon 98.9, an older-skewing country format and companion to Kicks 101.5.

So the Beatles, James Taylor and the Bee Gees have been thrown to the curb yet again.

With Cumulus pushing the NASH country brand nationwide, I thought they’d simply change Kicks to NASH, as they have on many of their country stations. That may still happen but for now, the NASH name is now attached to 98.9.

Kicks, the dominant country station in Atlanta for many years, has been getting beaten badly this year by 94.9/The Bull in the ratings. It’s not clear how the addition of NASH Icons will tangibly help Kicks. In the latest monthly ratings, the Bull had its best ever month with a 6.3 share, tied for fourth in the market while Kicks pulled in a 3.6, tied for 12th place.

When Kicks was owned by ABC, then Citadel, the station had used Eagle 106.7 as a complementary country format. But when Cumulus purchased owned 106.7, it (ironically) switched to True Oldies. In 2012, that signal became All News, which is now a news/talk hybrid.

Oldies by acts like Willie Nelson are included on Nash Icon 98.9, which blends currents and older tunes similar to the way Eagle 106.7 did back in the 2000s. CREDIT: Getty Images

Oldies by acts like Willie Nelson are included on Nash Icon 98.9, which blends currents and older tunes similar to the way Eagle 106.7 did back in the 2000s. CREDIT: Getty Images

The 98.9 signal is three years old. It started in 2011 as the last home for 99X. In the fall of 2012, after Clear Channel blew up Project 96.1 for top 40 Power 96.1, Cumulus created 98.9/The Bone, an active rock format similar to what Project was playing. Despite passable ratings for a modest signal, that station lasted all of five months.

Management then inexplicably tried an unusual country/Christian format called the Walk that received almost no ratings at all. That station was on air for just six months.

So Cumulus last year switched it to True Oldies with Scott Shannon. That station made it about 10 months before Cumulus switched to Good Time Oldies June 28. That survived about seven weeks. Oldies averaged about a 0.8 share in its life at 98.9, which isn’t half bad for such a limited signal.

This is the fourth time the oldies format has come and gone in Atlanta. Fox 97.1, the first one, was a huge top 5 station for a time and lasted 14 years (1989-2003) during the time when Baby Boomers were really attractive to advertisers. Cool 105.7 took over for two years, then there was a gap of three years with nothing. Cumulus brought on True Oldies 106.7 in 2008 and that format lasted for four years. After another year of no oldies in town, Cumulus gave True Oldies another shot on a much weaker signal at 98.9. As we know, that ultimately lasted less than a year.

Nash Icons is also a record label and joint venture between Cumulus and Big Machine Entertainment.

John Dickey, head of programming for Cumulus, said the station will be targeting a slightly older demo than the mainstream country stations, kind of like hot AC formatics for pop (think Star 94 or B98.5 vs. Power and Q100).  So similar to Star and B98.5, the station will play older cuts and mix them with compatible current songs.

Here’s the Nash Icons Facebook page.  (UPDATE 8/26: Eleven days into its existence, this page has a mere 54 likes.) Twitter? 31 followers.

And a recent song history

A sampling of the format, which is apparently a blend of classics going back to the 1980s and currents.

7:36 a.m. Willie Nelson “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” (1980)

7:40 a.m. Luke Bryan “Play It Again” (2014)

7:43 a.m. Lady Antebellum “Love Don’t Live Here” (2007)

7:46 a.m. Little Texas “What Might Have Been” (1993)

7:51 a.m. Faith Hill “Breathe” (1999)

7:55 a.m. Billy Currington “We are Tonight” (2013)

7:58 a.m. Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” (2006)

8:03 a.m. Mark Wills “19 Somethin’ (2002)

8:07 a.m. Parmalee “Carolina” (2008)

8:10 a.m. Brad Paisley “I’m Gonna Miss Her” (2002)

8:13 a.m. Joe Nichols “Yeah” (2014)

8:16 a.m. Lorrie Morgan “What Part of No” (1993)

8:19 a.m. Kenny Chesney “I Go Back” (2004)

8:23 a.m. Tim McGraw “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” (2014)

8:27 a.m. George Strait “Blue Clear Sky” (1996)

8:31 a.m. Brett Eldredge “Don’t Ya” (2012)

8:35 a.m. Garth Brooks “That Summer”(1993)

8:40 a.m. Keith Anderson “Pickin’ Wildflowers” (2004)

 

32 comments
4williec
4williec

It has always amazed me how a metro area with as large a demographic slice as it has continues to not have a really good oldies rock station or a good classic country station. Up to now, they've had neither. The oldies stations we've had of late tend to play the same clichéd top 40 oldies over and over. The Atlanta country stations continue to cater to the young redneck drunk crowd with all their modern countrified hard rock stuff that is anything but country music. Sometimes the closest thing you can find to a classic country station is WCON out of Cornelia Ga. When I travel, it seems we always find these great stations that we wish we had here in the Atlanta area only to come back home to the same old same old...

GSUMensBBFan
GSUMensBBFan

You guys can still get your Classics fix by going to www.greatclassics989.com. Coincidentally, that's the web address for the station based out of Carroll County playing a similar format.

Flower23
Flower23

I will only listen to find out what advertisers to BOYCOTT!!

Pericolo
Pericolo

Tuned in for some great oldies and found yet another country music channel. It's getting where you don't want to listen to local radio because in 2 or 3 months they'll change the format. Wish I knew who to send a letter to, not that it would help, but I'd like to tell these radio execs who are constantly monkeying with Atlanta radio stations what as-hats they are. Oh well, back to XM and Pandora I guess. 

ReallyAJC
ReallyAJC

How is this even a story or a beat for the ajc?

TyronePatron
TyronePatron

I  just found out about the oldies station last week and then they change the format to country? Why?

janet814
janet814

I agre with Kenneth.   Please give us back the True Oldies Channel. 

KennethCorday
KennethCorday

This station sucks..... What was the sage reason behind this change? Who was the genius who implemented this? I mean the station wasn't on the air even 2 months? What ratings did they expect?

DLB1044
DLB1044

Cumulus - Bring back The Good Time Oldies !!!  Tired of so much country - We need this station in ATL


ghostwolf2003
ghostwolf2003

If you would like the email of the person who programs Cumulus I have it. Maybe if enough of us contact him they will change their plan

DonSummerour
DonSummerour

Atlanta has the worst radio airplay of any city. We need a oldies station. We already have enough country stations. Cumulus give us back our Good Time Oldies.

ghostwolf2003
ghostwolf2003

How about everyone contacting Cumulus and asking them to bring back the Good time Oldies 98.9 they already have country station kicks 101 no need for more country we need an oldies station here in Atlanta . Thanks for your support

steveyb
steveyb

98.9 had good ratings with the oldies. Now we are the only major market station in the country without them yet again. No way this country format will do anything for them. Bring back the oldies! Somebody!

huminahumina
huminahumina

Well, crap. They had a good mix on the oldies station. Oh well, I guess I'll have to listen to 1690 full time again.

Amber B.
Amber B.

Great. Just what we need - another country station. WRAS.. the comedy channel from a few years ago .. True Oldies .. Good Time Oldies .. all gone. All stuff I listened to. For a city this big radio truly sucks.

McGilligan
McGilligan

Darn, just this morning I made a mental note to pick up some Roberta Flack. They were doing a nice job of reintroducing some forgotten tunes.


I must say the new DJ's jokes were so bad, I would have to classify them as Hee Haw-grade corn. It felt like it was directed to an audience at a retirement community, which is a little weird for a station playing 70s pop.

HerbertHerb
HerbertHerb

Oh well, so much for the Elvis weekend. The previous switch was this past June, right in the middle of the 60s weekend. Cumulus, you really know how to ruin a party.

commonsense76
commonsense76

So angry about this.  I HATE Atlanta radio executives.  Literally, EVERY station that I have every liked in Atlanta in the 38 years of my life here has been converted to some donkey format. 

MondayMorningQB
MondayMorningQB

Well I for one am upset about this.  The oldies music had some not so good stuff, but then they would mix a lot of good songs in there too.  You could tell their DJ's were all pre-recorded, but that aside, I guess as a male in my 40's I wasn't their target audience.  I remember several years ago they tried an older skewing country station around the 96.1 range (The Legend) that might have made it 6 months or so before it got changed out.  Bottom line is, don't get too comfortable with whatever format they are currently airing, odds are it will be switched yet again in around 6 months.

tc57
tc57

I actually enjoyed listening to the Cumulus Good Time Oldies better than Scott Shannon's station. I wish they would have left it alone. Atlanta needs an oldies country station but they should have changed 101.5 into that format.

GSUMensBBFan
GSUMensBBFan

@McGilligan You do realize that if a person was 20 years old in 1970, they would be 64 now, right?  Sounds like the retirement community audience to me.

McGilligan
McGilligan

@GSUMensBBFan 64 is not as old as you may think it is. But maybe I should have said "nursing home." It sounded like something people who were born in the 30s might find hilarious. I was waiting to hear a crack about how you can't tell the boys from the girls these days, what with all the long hair.

Definitely not the kinds of jokes that go with "Kiss You All Over" (1978)  and "Tonight's the Night" (1976). 

GSUMensBBFan
GSUMensBBFan

Fair enough. Of course "Active Adult" communities are for 55+. So there's that.