Hope for decent radio in Atlanta?

Many of you may remember from a few months back when everything in Atlanta radio changed. 99x disappeared a second time and became 98.9 The Bone. Project 96-1 (formerly 96 Rock) became another top 40 station. Dave FM (Formerly Z93) became a sports talk radio station, and WGST disappeared.

Then, because each individual station wasn’t excruciating enough (yes I’m still bitter that 99X disappeared the first time) 98.9 The Bone and the only “rock” station still left merged and 98.9 became a Christian station of some sorts (I forget if it’s contemporary, rock, or country). If I missed any or mislabeled a station, my apologies. There was a lot to keep track of.

Well after the lovely shake up we’re still recovering from, there may actually be hope for good local stations again. Wired has a story out about the rise of low power FM stations. Essentially there has been a serious shift in the regulatory environment that will allow these stations to start popping up everywhere, kinda like dandelions only pleasant.

Each station would only be limited to 100 watts, which isn’t a lot but the 3-10 mile range could reach a lot of folks depending on where the station is based (Wired uses Chicago and north of 1 million in the reachable audience as an example). There are 22 licensed stations in Georgia with others pending, only a handful are in the expanded metro area.

In a time where it seems that local products are becoming more and more prized, I’m looking forward to this. We have Georgia Grown and restaurants that use local CSA produced food. I’m looking forward to what could create a decent radio station again.


  1. I recall someone telling me one time that Atlanta’s radio market is so bad (for consumers) and so great (for people who own the stations) because of the spacing on the dial – ideally you’d have a station every 0.6 or so in a big market and maximum stations, but they don’t like to issue licenses to stations that are too close together and we’ve just got a lot crowding out potential territory.

    Don’t know how true that is – but we don’t have a lot of stations and I believe up until maybe now it’s been hard for someone to launch a new frequency. Love local radio for news though – would be interesting to see if something similar to the Patch’s on the web springs up radio wise.

    • bkeahl says:

      That spacing will affect the LP stations as well. FM uses frequency shift (Frequency Modulation) to convey the sound. So a certain amount of space around the actual “dial” frequency is required to ensure two stations don’t overlap. There’s also the problem of how discriminating the receiver is. All that adds up to requiring some distance between frequencies, decreasing the number of holes available for these LP stations.

  2. Andre says:

    The lack of decent radio in Atlanta stems from the lack of diversity in ownership.

    Atlanta radio is owned by two or three corporations whose focus is on the bottom line instead of the music lovers. Every radio fits nicely into a particular segment of the population; and every station plays it safe.

    Homegrown radio would be great. Local residents walking into a home studio, putting theit iPod on shuffle and breaking for commercials every so often. That would be great.

  3. Great! …for now. Local radio’s gonna experience a few “spikes” over the course of the next few years (kind of exciting in a hokey way), but I bet most local stations, including these new 100-watt’ers, will have died out, especially outside of non-rural areas, soon after, leaving talk radio stations as the only “real” local voices.

    Why? Two reasons:

    One: Micro-marketing. You’re town has weird tastes in music? No problem. They’re’ll be an algorithm for that, and the only local voices on “local” non-talk radio will be those speaking on behalf of organizations or individuals who’ve paid for air time and happen to not be from out of town.

    Two: I’m feeling gutsy this afternoon.

    • saltycracker says:

      Interesting point – we just got talking about our Kroger card. We use it to get fuel discounts & they use it to track our shopping (not verified but it appears so). The weekly special ads they e-mail us are slightly different than what our friends get……
      guess they have an algorithm……

      • Exactly. That’s why you need to organize a “grocery carpool” with your friends, coworkers, neighbors, or most preferably, people you haven’t ever met!

        A grocery carpool basically works like Strangers on a Train (or Throw Granny off the Train). The biggest differences are just that there’re several “strangers” on your “train,” and you don’t know who you’re buying for (because y’all would give each other your respective grocery lists a la Secret Santa).

        It really is the easiest way to beat “The Man” and save local non-talk radio.

        • saltycracker says:

          WHAT? And miss out on my special coupons for ultimate shopper days (also proven to be a waste of time )…..home radio’s are for retro ’70’s bedrooms….

  4. Engineer says:

    I love listening to country music and all, but even I get tired of hearing it constantly. Modern Rock is an all but dead format in much of Georgia. Unfortunately in southern GA, most of what they play is a mix of mostly classic rock from the 70’s & 80’s with a splashing of 90’s (I know that this is the case of Rock 103 (103.5FM) in Albany and 107.7 the Fox in Brunswick and a couple other small stations between Tifton and Statesboro). Pretty much the only “new” rock I hear is on Rock 103 (102.9FM) in Columbus, Rock 108 (107.9FM) in Valdosta, or X 102.9 out of Jacksonville, FL.

  5. Dash Riptide says:

    Music over the air makes no sense anymore. The stuff I listen to sometimes gets used on an edgy television series, but it’s never played on the radio. And I couldn’t care less. Only the lowest common denominator consumes what gets played on the radio. It’s so corporate now it would make Journey blush.

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