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The Story of 96Rock

96Rock 5:00 Friday whistle

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(L to R) Kelly Kincaid, Steve Mitchell, Mike Alston, Mark McCain

WKLS - Bobby Harper 3-31-80(Courtesy of Jay Philpott)
00:00 / 06:46
WKLS-96-Rock-Mark&SteveMid 80s-Courtesy of Steve Mitchell)
00:00 / 45:31
96Rock (credit Rick Diamond)
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96Rock air staff 
(Click to enlarge)
Courtesy Rick Diamond Photography

96 Rock "Home Cookin'" album cover

(Top Row Left to right): Steve Mitchell, John Boy Bryant, and Rob Buttery (Popeye and other voices)
(Middle); Willard Arbour, Beth Kepple, Kaedy Kiley, Bill Pugh (Mr. Bill), and McKenzie Scott
(Front): Kelly Kincaid and Mark McCain

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"All of the 96rock DJ’s had fans, especially those who listened in the overnight hours. McKenzie Scott was the sexy voice that you heard from midnight till 6 am. (McKenzie is on the far right of the profile picture, with the hat) She was the DJ that kept the 3rd shifters, security guards, insomniacs, college students, and convenience store workers company until dawn.
This is a picture from one of her famous “Nightie Nights.” It was a fun idea. After all, radio is the theatre of the mind…It’s nice to know that sometimes radio can be real!"  — Willard Arbour 2022 Facebook post

(Courtesy of Willard Arbour)

96 Rock People (Oral history interviews)

Steve Mitchell — On his radio career including 96 Rock & Eagle 106.7

Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University. Recorded February 2019

Jeff Winter — On his radio career including WKXI/WQXI 94.1 & 96Rock

Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University. Recorded January 2019

History of 96.1FM Atlanta

WWPW  Atlanta GA  96.1

(Edited from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

 

First air date      December 2, 1960; 61 years ago

Former call signs

WGAA-FM (1960)

WKLS (1961–1977)

WKLS-FM (1977–1989)

WKLS (1989–2012)

WWPW (PoWer)

NOTE: From 1977 to 1988, WKLS was co-owned with WKLS (970 AM); consequently, WKLS was formally known as WKLS-FM during this period.

 

History

On December 2, 1960, the station signed on the air as WGAA-FM, the FM counterpart to WGAA in Cedartown.  Shortly after being established, the station was sold to Kenco Broadcasting for $25,000. Kenco was headed by Don Kennedy, James Lathom, and Arthur Swan; Kennedy was an Atlanta radio and television personality, playing "Officer Don" on WSB-TV's "Popeye Club" children's show from 1956 to 1972. After the sale, WGAA-FM's call letters were changed to WKLS, representing the initials of Kenco's partners, "Kennedy-Lathom-Swan". They sold it ten years later for $750,000.

From its earliest days until the early 1970s, the station played easy listening music. For its first several years on the air, WKLS was voice-tracked with most of the announcements and commercials read by Kennedy. By 1972, WKLS had moved to a middle-of-the-road format with popular adult music and live disc jockeys who served as friendly personalities. Its main slogan by then was "WKLS...That's 'Klass'."

96 Rock-The Album rock era

WKLS made a dramatic change in 1974, as it flipped to an album rock format, using the moniker "96 Rock", the branding it retained until November 2006. Key artists on WKLS in the 1970s included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Carole King, The Who, and Chicago. For a time in 1977, DJ "Skinny" Bobby Harper, who was said to be the inspiration for Dr. Johnny Fever of the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, was a WKLS disc jockey.

 

In the early 1980s, "96 Rock" often mocked competing stations which played Top 40 hits as "wimp rock” and began to play more heavy metal, which was increasing in popularity.  However, a backlash began to develop among the station's more mature listeners. In 1985, the station modified its playlist to a mix of older and newer titles.

In1985, the Meredith Corporation sold the station to Great American Radio and Television (which later became Citicasters). Jacor Communications acquired Citicasters in 1996.

In 1999, WKLS and its parent company Jacor was bought by San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications.

"96 Rock" continued to play a mixture of classic rock and new rock for nearly two decades. WKLS finally became exclusively a classic rock station in 2004 when competing Atlanta station Z-93 (WZGC FM 92.9) switched from classic rock to adult album alternative (AAA) as "Dave FM."

In April 2004, long-time morning drive time hosts The Regular Guys (Larry Wachs and Eric Von Haessler) were fired after they had inadvertently aired graphic sexual language from porn star Devin Lane when the content bled through a Honda commercial. That content, which aired the previous month, was intended to be played backward. Regular Guys sidekick "Southside" Steve Rickman and former midday host Tim Rhodes took the morning time slot temporarily. A permanent replacement came in the form of the syndicated Bob & Tom Show, as Rhodes and Rickman moved to the afternoon slot. The Regular Guys returned to Atlanta airwaves on March 21, 2005, and came back to 96 Rock in May, after a brief stint on co-owned talk station WGST. The return of the Regular Guys only lasted 18 months.

On November 17, 2006, at 9 a.m., Clear Channel dropped the station's 32-year "96 Rock" moniker, replacing it with "Project 9-6-1", and shifted to more of an active rock format.

On July 7, 2007, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the new morning show host for Project 9-6-1 would be "Giant" Brian Carothers beginning on October 1, 2007. On October 2, 2009, it was announced that The Giant Show would be replaced by a show hosted by Shaffee and El Jefe, who was later replaced by Klinger.

On May 24, 2011, Kidd Chris from WYSP Philadelphia announced that he would be joining the morning show. He hosted mornings on Project 9-6-1 until the format's demise.

 

Power 96.1- TheContemporary hits era

On August 29, 2012, at 7 p.m., without warning, "Project" signed off following a farewell message from program director Chris "The OC" Williams, as he ended the station's 38-year rock history with "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, with the rock format moving to its HD2 digital subchannel. After stunting with an hour of jockless pop songs, the station flipped to Top 40/CHR, branded as "Power 96.1." The flip marked the second station in the market to use the "Power" branding, the first being WARM-FM/WAPW from 1986 to 1992. On September 11, 2012, WKLS changed call letters to WWPW to match the "Power" branding.

The nationally syndicated program Elvis Duran and the Morning Show was carried by WWPW from September 2012 until February 11, 2014, after which the station debuted a local morning show on March 17 with Scotty K, Riley Couture, and Bret Mega.

On February 29, 2016, it was officially announced that Power Morning Show hosts Scotty K and Bret Mega were let go. And in March,  PK Kalentzis, began hosting mornings along with his wife Denise and Riley Couture. In November 2020, PK and his co-hosts were let go as a result of budget cuts.  In February 2021, WWPW picked up "The Jubal Show" for morning drive.

Digital broadcasting

WWPW broadcasts in IBOC digital radio, using the HD Radio system, with four subchannels:

  • WWPW-HD1 is a digital simulcast of the analog signal.

  • WWPW-HD2 broadcasts contemporary Christian music from the iHeartRadio Christian Hits service.

  • WWPW-HD3 airs, as of July 2020, an all-news radio format as a simulcast of WBIN (640 AM), featuring the African-American focused Black Information Network.

  • WWPW-HD4 broadcasts, as of January 12, 2021, a classic hits format branded "Fox FM".