ATLANTA - Rock listeners in Metro Atlanta awakened to one less radio station Thursday morning.
Project 9-6-1, which was carried on 96.1 FM in Atlanta (WKLS) was on a frequency that has historically aired rock music. As 96 Rock, the station began airing rock music in 1974, and counts among its many disc jockeys over the years "Skinny Bobby" Harper, who television creator Hugh Wilson says was the inspiration for the Dr. Johnny Fever character on the 70s and 80s sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati."
In 2006, the Clear Channel-owned station dropped the 96 Rock name in favor of Project 9-6-1. The station's music format was altered slightly to an "active rock" music mix, which included some classic rock along with selections of contemporary rock music.
This week, the station abruptly dumped the rock format and moved to a Top 40 pop format, using the name Power 96.1. The station announced that Elvis Duran's New York-based morning show and Ryan Seacrest's Los Angeles-based morning show would air in the morning and midday time slots on Power 96.1 beginning next week.
Vocal opposition popped up on the web, with several internet petitions, and at least two Facebook pages devoted to getting station management to change their minds. Many listeners and posters insisted that Atlanta already has "too many" pop stations on the air.
"Never will listen," Tweeted @RealMuthaFatha. "We want project 961 back!!! Atlanta has too many crappy Pop stations already!"
"I really can't believe there's no more @Project961," Tweeted @Anna_McBride. "I'm heartbroken."
Many posters on the Project 9-6-1 Facebook page were very upset as well, demanding that station management reconsider their decision to change the station's format.
More than 3,000 people had signed internet petitions, and another 3,500 had joined "Bring Back Project 9-6-1" Facebook groups as of Thursday afternoon. Another Facebook measure encouraged supporters to begin a protest at Centennial Olympic ParkSaturday afternoon, with the hopes of bringing the old station back on the air.