Atlanta’s 96 Rock

Pure Rock ‘n’ Roll

In 1974, 96 Rock came on the air with what would be now called Classic Rock. The initial song played was The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”. It wasn’t long until all my friends were tuning in to this station.

DJ Legends like Kaedy Kiely, Mark McCain, Willard, John Boy Bryant, Skinny Bobby Harper, Dean Clark, and Christopher Rude were on 96 Rock. They launched the careers of the Regular Guys, led by Eric Von Haessler, now on WSB, and Larry Wachs.

It wasn’t your standard “play the hits” station, as they played album tracks all the time. One thing that blew me away was right after I started listening they played “Thick as a Brick” by Jethro Tull, all 43:46 minutes of it, one afternoon after school.

They gave away lots of swag and were always at the concerts in town. They had a great morning show and the Friday “Five O’clock Whistle” was a staple. I have a 96 Rock license plate and had their sticker on my bumpers. 96 Rock jock Steve Mitchell said “We really jacked into the community. When you connect with the community on so many levels. We had concerts. We had merchandise. We had live broadcasts. We had the Falcons involved. The music was hot.”

96 Rock sponsored the 1980 “Hot’ Lanta Home Cookin'” LP manufactured by The Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Co. will all proceeds donated to the Georgia Special Olympics. This album was a compilation of 1980 era Atlanta area bands. Vol 2 came out in 1981, Vol 3 in 1983, and Vol 4 in 1984. Other sponsors were Mello Yello, and Turtle’s Records/Tapes/Movies.

Singer/Songwriter Frank Zappa played DJ for a day at WKLS 96 Rock in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 25, 1981. “Skinny” Bobby Harper, whose outrageous antics in the 1960s and ’70s became the model for the “WKRP in Cincinnati” DJ Johnny Fever.

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

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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