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Tuned Out

With the flip of a switch, Atlanta's longest running Rock channel transforms into a teeny-pop mess. Those of us who have tuned in over the years are not amused. Our daughters will be thrilled

I pulled in the parking lot to Guns n Roses. Exactly 24 hours later, I pulled out listening to Katie Perry. I never changed channels.

Wait...what?

That is how I learned of the abrupt switch at 96.1FM from "Project 9-6-1" to "Power 96". This spells the end of 38 years of straight up rock from that frequency. It was the home of Atlanta's iconic "96Rock" for 32 years before switching  names, but not format, six years ago. The station maintained most of its listeners. The morning show's humor was such that made fart jokes seem downright debonair. While I never cared for the adolescent tone in the morning, the music was always spot on. Heavy guitar riffs all around; equal parts Skynard, Leppard, STP and Sevenfold.

However, switching formats suddenly is common practice in the radio biz, so the shockwave sent by this one was in all likelihood completely expected by the folks at Clear Channel. The outrage and protests will have no effect. Big corporations don't change the music out of personal preference. My guess is that they studied the demographics of the listening area and decided that marketing to teenage girls was more profitable than 30-45 year old men.

To test this theory I had to go no further than my own driveway. My teenage daughter and I got in the truck, and I switched the channel to "Power 96." I keep flipping back, hoping that this is all a cruel joke. Some Katie Perry song was playing (NOTE: Any current pop music with a female singer is a Katie Perry song to me). It was cutesy, repetitive and most annoyingly, NOT Metallica. The conversation went something like this...(music playing in background in parenthesis)

(I just met you)

ME: How can you listen to this stuff? It's terrible!

(and this is crazy)

TEENAGER: Well, it's way better than that angry stuff you like

(but here's my number)

ME: Angry? You mean awesome? yeah, that's what you meant...awesome

(so call me maybe)

TEENAGER: No. I meant lame. At least with MY music, only the girls have pretty hair. The 80's must've been so lame. I'm glad I wasn't born yet.

(I just met you)

ME: ...

(and this is crazy)

(but here's my number)

TEENAGER: Ha.

(so call me maybe)

(I just met you...)

Teenagers. They are the market for music. You can't argue that fact, and you can't argue with them. Looks like Power 96 is here to stay. Looks like the dads of the area will just have to tune out.

Except that now she knows of the switch, she tuned all my presets onto 96.1, just to rub it in. And I can't get that song out of my head now.

Great.

Rochelle Hoag August 31, 2012 at 07:42 PM
it says to add a comment, but you dont want to know my comment ... just know there is a protest in Olympic park sat at 3pm. if you cant make it ...write on your car window ( with the window stuff) we live loud and play hard! Bring back our Project 96.1 in support ! its one of the few radio stations that 10,000+ have likes a facebook page( in less that 24 hours) signed petitions and is gathering the project family. We dont need another POP station we need our music back. Please show your support !
Jeffrey Allen August 31, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Good to know, Sebastian. Rock on, my young friend!
Brett Griggs August 31, 2012 at 11:34 PM
The problem lies with Clear Channel Communications who has a track record for leaving a vast number of irate listeners in their wake. They are severely disillusioned if they think they are going to reach a larger market in an area already inundated with the very same format as they have changed over to with the nauseating power 96 station currently up and running. Atlanta fans will not sit quietly and allow this to happen. They are too strong willed and are passionate about the music they listen to.
Mike wren September 01, 2012 at 11:22 PM
This sucks. Yes my 14 yr. Old girl will like this. But i think it is deeper then this. I think this is racially motivated move. Alt. Is mostly african american. Most who listened to the real 96.1 were white. The new format sucks. I hate anyone involved in making the change. You all suck.
Michael Pitts September 03, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I am a teenager and I know that Project 96.1 was amazing, possibly the best station in Atlanta or even the southeast. I can't stand what they are playing right now. How can you go from Metallica to Britney Spears within 24 hours?

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