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The Return of 96X

The radio station that brought 1990s alternative rock and grunge to Memphis is coming back.

Flinn Broadcasting announced Thursday, April 11, that 96X has returned at 96.1 on the FM dial.

Before the format switch Thursday afternoon, just in time for afternoon drive time, the station had been playing “Blister” by Violent Femmes continuously.

96x’s Facebook cover photo sports the 1990s-era logo with the note “We’re back.”

In its previous incarnation, 96X was at 95.7 and was owned by the Clear Channel broadcasting group that also included Rock 103 and WREC-AM.

The new radio station’s Facebook page includes the old 96X logo complete with the lizard and the station’s slogan of “Never Blend In.”

When the radio station debuted in 1994, its playlist included such new bands as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soul Asylum, Soundgarden, Cracker and Green Day. All were bands that weren’t getting airplay in other commercial radio formats in the Memphis market. They represented a different sound and a different audience than the long established artists being featured on album rock, classic rock and album oriented rock radio stations at the time.

The new format quickly connected with younger listeners even as those artists and others quickly became the mainstream future of more conventional rock radio formats and found their way onto those playlists as well.

The original 96X lasted for six years and framed the music in a context that included an oldies lunch hour of late 1970s and early 1980s punk and none of the classic rock that it would later be combined with as it grew in popularity.

It was the station that broke the news locally that Kurt Cobain was dead, interviewed the Dave Matthews Band and Wallflowers during early Memphis dates by both bands and dropped the “Santa Monica” single by the band Everclear it had been playing a lot after a tense on-air interview in which the band mistakenly accused the radio station of not playing it until they came to town.

Fiona Apple and Sarah McLachlan were among those who performed in the studios on Beale Street during visits to the city.

Beck composed an original song in the radio station’s production studio to go with the “Loser” and other early hits.

 

Comments

  1. Wintermute says:

    That signal’s pretty weak, I found after I turned the radio on to check out your report. I almost didn’t make it there, because the tuner was on the great Memphis music collection show at WYPL 89.3, which aside from brilliant moments on WEVL and WUMR, is the best radio to be heard in the world’s greatest music city.

  2. kroqjohn says:

    Love this. Bill Dries reporting on the return of the station that he literally watched happen from his adjoining news studio. Circle of life and whatnot.

  3. KateSimone says:

    Kroqjohn: Bill shared a bunch of his personal 96X memories with me yesterday. There are a few advantages to having a desk next to “the old guy.” Heh.

  4. kroqjohn says:

    Ha! I’m sure the statute of limitations for most of that stuff has expired. I hope.

Dansette

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