CMT/Paramount senior executive Leslie Fram will reunite with Steve Barnes as co-host of the relaunched 99X Atlanta morning show, now known as The Morning X With Barnes and Leslie. The radio broadcast had its original success via Atlanta’s alternative rock station from 1994 until 2003, and will now air from 6-10 a.m. ET each weekday.
Fram will also retain her role at CMT/Paramount.
In 1994, Brian Philips, now chief content officer at parent company Cumulus Media, paired Barnes and Leslie on the original Morning X With Barnes, Leslie and Jimmy (Baron). The show earned acclaim in the Atlanta market and beyond, while the team was named Billboard‘s national major market morning show in 1996, and Radio and Records’ national major market morning show in 1999.
In October 2022, the launch of the 99X “museum” website to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the station’s founding led to an outpouring of fan interest and passion. Cumulus Media acquired the station’s classic call letters and relaunched 99X WNNX in Atlanta in December. The station’s ratings doubled in its first month on the air. Barnes has hosted the revamped program since January.
The popular podcast The Pop Culture Show, which the duo founded at the onset of the pandemic, is now rebranded as The Morning X With Barnes & Leslie and joins the Cumulus Podcast Network. Episodes will release each weekday, featuring both new programming and classic material from the legendary radio show.
“This ‘new original 99X’ was destined to be — it is a passion project, a labor of love. None of us has ever stopped being friends, loving the same music, or laughing at the same jokes,” Philips said via a statement. “The audience demanded the return of the station via a social explosion of affection and nostalgia. Only in Atlanta could the will of the loyal 99X audience make the impossible happen. It’s unprecedented to be able to entirely rebuild a classic station with members of its original cast.”
“99X was my home for 17 years and will forever be in my DNA. Those years prepared me for my current role at CMT – understanding a loyal fanbase of music lovers who truly lead the way,” Fram added via a statement. “You only have to glance at the comments from 99X listeners reminiscing about their favorite music and memories to appreciate the role this radio station played in their lives. The Foo Fighters sang, ‘If everything could ever be this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again’ … and it turns out it can. I am psyched to be working with some of my lifelong friends and colleagues on 99X again and thankful to my Paramount/CMT family for letting me continue to put my rock hat on with Cumulus during my off hours.”
“It’s a thrill to come back ‘home’ to The Morning X and 99X,” added Barnes. “It’s mind blowing that the fans asked for our return to the Atlanta airwaves and Cumulus gave us the chance to put our team back together to rebuild this franchise.”
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