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97.1 FM Gainesville/Atlanta


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Audio and Video

Fox97 Composite-Probably 1989
00:00 / 10:21
Fox 97 Composite 1993
00:00 / 03:09
Fox97 Sunday Gold Countdown w JJ Jackson-Probably 1989WFOX
00:00 / 05:00
Fox 97 Oldies Diner-John Wetherbee Oct 1996
00:00 / 07:51

Fox 97's Spiff and the morning coffee break

Fox 97 Ultimate Oldies Concert video

Fox 97's Randy and Spiff 1991

Fox 97's Randy and Spiff TV ad

Photos (click to enlarge)

Fox 97 Airstaff with Dick Bartley at Studebakers

Fox 97 airstaff at Atlanta kickoff party Aug. 29, 1984

Fox 97 Airstaff-Mid to late 80s

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Pictured: GSM Eddie Esserman, GM Martin Sherry, PD Dennis Winslow, J.J. Jackson, Mark Bell, "Allison Lane" (Lisa Tyrer), Tom Pearce, Randy Marsh, Stasia Kelly, Dick Bartley.

Pictured-Fox 97's kickoff air staff: Lisa Tyrer, Darlene Evans, Tom Pearce, Stasia Kelly, Paul Warren, PD Dennis Winslow,  Production Director David Bennett, and GM Martin Sherry. (Photo-Rick Diamond)

 Pictured: (Front) Greg Black, Mark Bell, Dennis Winslow, B.B. Murray (Back) Randy Marsh, Rebecca McGrane, Alan Sledge, Stasia Kelly, Lisa Tyrer, J.J. Jackson.

Fox 97's Randy and Spiff interviewing Shamrock Broadcasting owner Roy Disney at Walt Disney World

Randy and Spiff card (Probably mid to late 90s)

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Pictured: (l to r) Randy Cook, Spiff Carner, Roy Disney, Jr. 

(Below) Randy and Spiff at The Ultimate Oldies Concert at the Georgia Dome.  {With The Shirelles, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), Gary Lewis (Gary Lewis and the Playboys), and Felix Cavelieri (The Rascals) .}

(Below) A 1976 Fox 97 rate card -- with an early logo treatment.  (Courtesy of Andrew "Butch" Guest.)

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History (Edited from Wikipedia, with additions by Fox 97 PD Dennis Winslow)

97.1 came on the air in November of 1965 as WLBA-FM, but later changed call letters to WWQT. Owned by Earnest M. Reynolds and Norfleet Johnson, the country formatted was automated and on-air 6 am to midnight.

Around 1970, a Milwaukee station that had been using the WFOX call letters changed to WNOV, and WFOX(FM) was born, presumably to take advantage of association with Atlanta’s beloved Fox Theater.

In 1972, L.H. Christian’s Radio Athens bought it for $150,000, and under the direction of WRFC/Arhens VP-GM Charles Giddens, switched the format to adult rock with live personalities and Butch Guest as Manager, Randy Reeves PD, Ron Thompson as Sales Manager, and 19-year old Randy Mullinax as Chief Engineer. (Mullinax is now Senior Vice President of Engineering for iHeart Radio with engineering supervision for stations all over the Southeast. He still lives in the area.)  The station also improved the signal with a new tower and a power increase from 50,000 to 100,000 watts and changed to a 5am to 1am broadcast schedule.

Station Manager Andrew "Butch" Guest remembers, "The station's considerable audience extended well beyond Gainesville and into all of northeast Georgia and several counties in SC. The station went Stereo in 1973."

In 1983, WFOX was purchased by Shamrock Broadcasting, owned by the Roy E. Disney family. (Yes, that Disney family! Roy is Walt’s nephew.) A new 1,764-foot tower was constructed closer to Atlanta, which was, at the time, the tallest man-made structure in the state of Georgia. Studios were built at RiverEdge Center along I-285 at the Chattahoochee River, and the station kicked off their new format on August 29, 1984, playing a mix of Adult Contemporary and oldies – “The Classic Hits of the 60s, 70s, and the ’80s.”

In addition to airstaff members pictured above, the first Fox 97 Morning personality on the new signal was Don Schaeffer, who left after a year, and later became PD and morning man at Christian formatted WVFJ in Atlanta. Following Schaeffer, was WQXI-AM alum J.J. Jackson, who paired up with Stasia Kelly as "JJ and Stasia." 

When visionary General Manager Martin Sherry passed away suddenly in 1988, market veteran and WFOX General Sales Manager Eddie Esserman, who had joined the WFOX kickoff team from a similar position at 96 Rock, was elevated to GM. Realizing that the Adult Contemporary format was crowded in Atlanta, and noticing that the most popular music type in audience research was the oldies songs the station was mixing in, the station management team flipped to “All Oldies All The Time” in January 1989.  With a new morning show -- Randy and Spiff--  the station enjoyed higher ratings, finishing consistently as one of the top 3 adult 25-54 stations for many years.

The station was known for its "Ultimate Oldies Concert" series that ran from 1990 to 2001 and featured artists like Little Anthony, Dion, Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits, Johnny Rivers,  3 Dog Night, Ben E. King, Paul Revere, Chubby Checker, The Grass Roots, and others.  The first three years were held at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, and in fact, in year two, ticket sales set a record for the fastest sell-out of the venue, selling 44,000 tickets in less than 5 hours and beating sales for The Beatles concert in the 1960s. In year 4, the concert moved to The Georgia Dome, and still played to capacity crowds at the larger venue.

In 2000, the station was acquired by Atlanta-based Cox Broadcasting, and perhaps sensing that the success of the oldies format might be eroding in Atlanta, on February 3, 2003, Cox flipped the station to and up-tempo Adult Urban format as “97.1 Jamz.” 

With Cox already owning Urban formatted WALR (“Kiss 104.1”), and the Urban landscape in Atlanta crowded, on January 1, 2006, the format was changed to a mix of classic hits and classic rock at “97.1 The River,” and in April, the call letters were changed to WSRV, to match the “River” moniker.

As “The River,” the station evolved to a more standard Classic Rock playlist, although they still identify on-air as “Classic Hits.”  Currently, the airstaff consists of Atlanta radio veterans Kaedy Kiely, English Nick, and Steve Craig, with another veteran Dave Clapper as Program Director.

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