Cumulus Media’s “NASH Icon” Is Launched On Radio

August 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Podcasting/Radio  //  28 Comments

nashCumulus Media officially launched their “NASH Icon” brand to radio on Friday (8-15), changing two Georgia radio stations over to the new format that favors country music released from a 25-year “classic” period. Atlanta’s Oldies 98.9 W255CJ has changed over to NASH Icon 98.9, and Sports Radio 102.1 in Savannah will now be known as NASH Icon 102.1. According to Radio Insight, these are just two of the twelve total radio stations that are scheduled at the moment to take on the new NASH Icon brand (originally spelled plurally as “Icons”), including Nashville’s 95.5 WSM—the once FM companion station to AM’s 650 WSM. 650 WSM is country music’s most legendary station, and the home of the Grand Ole Opry.

Of the twelve radio stations looking to change over to the new format, only two of them are country stations—95.5 WSM in Nashville, and 92.5 KJJY in Des Moines. Three are classic or oldies stations mostly catering to older rock & roll, three are sports stations, three are contemporary hit radio stations, and one is news/talk.

The current flip list includes:

  • nash-icon-jpg95.5 WSM Nashville (Country)
  • 92.5 KJJY Des Moines (Country)
  • 93.7 WJBC Pontiac / Bloomington, IL (News/Talk)
  • 96.3 KBZU Albuquerque (Classic Rock)
  • 98.9 W255CJ Atlanta (Classic Hits)
  • 106.3 KRRF Oxnard, CA (Classic Hits)
  • 97.9 KQLK Lake Charles, LA (CHR)
  • 99.5 WZRR Birmingham, AL (CHR)
  • 102.1 WNUQ Albany, GA (CHR)
  • 100.7 KLSZ Fort Smith, AR
  • 102.1 WZAT Savannah, GA
  • 102.5 K273BZ Kansas City

NASH Icon was first announced in May as a joint venture between Cumulus Media and Big Machine Records. As mainstream country music radio has abandoned most of country music’s older artists, the idea with NASH Icon is to give a home to artists who still have large audiences, but no home on the radio dial. Meanwhile the NASH Icon record label is looking to sign artists from the 25-year window, and also wants to be involved heavily in merchandising and touring. The announcement of NASH Icon has many people in radio talking about a format split in country with contemporary country and “classic” country going their separate ways.

During a conference call last week, Cumulus chairman Lew Dickey said about NASH Icon, “We expect to announce a slate of signed artists before the holidays, and we’ll be working with our artists to monetize their work through recorded music, touring, merchandise and other related ventures. Following a start-up period in 2014, NASH ICON is expected to be profitable beginning next year.”

READ: The Best & Worst Case Scenarios For The New Classic Country Format

Country 92.5 KJJY Des Moines News/Talk 93.7 WJBC-FM Pontiac/Bloomington IL Country 95.5 WSM-FM Nashville Classic Rock “96.3 The Mountain” KBZU Albuquerque CHR “Hot 97.9” KQLK Lake Charles Classic Hits “Good Time Oldies 98.9” W255CJ Atlanta CHR “99.5 The Vibe” WZRR Birmingham Sports “100.7 The Ticket” KLSZ Fort Smith CHR “Q102.1” WNUQ Albany GA Sports “SportsRadio 102.1” WZAT Savannah Sports “102.5 The Fan” K273BZ Kansas City “Classic Hits 106.3” KRRF Oak View/Oxnard CARead more at:

28 Comments to “Cumulus Media’s “NASH Icon” Is Launched On Radio”

  • Wow Thats an interesting list of format changes.


  • I feel like this Nash Icon could be a good thing. However, it will probably end up being like a classic rock station.


  • I doubt I will be listening to this station on a regular basis, but when I heard about this Nash Icon thing a couple hours ago, I couldn’t resist tuning into the Atlanta radio station to see what this big new format is all about. I could write out a playlist of everything they’ve played for the last two hours or so, but of course everyone who’s interested can tune in for themselves.

    Some observations:

    – The only new song from an older artist I head was “The Way I’m Livin” by Lee Ann Womack. It was cool to hear it, though.

    I also enjoyed hearing “When You Say Nothing At All” by Allison Krauss in the mix.

    – The oldest songs I heard were “Drivin’ My Life Away” by Eddie Rabbit and “Love In the First Degree” by Alabama, both from the early 80’s.

    – They have interspersed current popular songs throughout the playlist. “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert and even “Dirt” by FGL mixed in well with some of the 90’s and 00’s country songs. “Boys Round Here” stuck out like a sore thumb and sounded particularly stupid in that context.

    – There are no commercials thus far, and the station is using traditional radio jingles instead of modern “sweepers.”

    – A few of the phrases used in the station’s promos: “Not the same music over and over..” “It’s the music that’s been missing on country radio!” “Let’s go back to the future…” “Atlanta is rich in history, today we welcome a new Icon with a rich heritage.”


    • I just tuned into the Atlanta station and they’re playing Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again.” I’m not sure about this format split changing anything.


      • Yeah. I’ve listened intermittently throughout the day, and it seems like about a third of the songs they’re playing are current pop-country hits. That’s not something I expected, and it really dilutes the uniqueness of the format.

        I guess it’s possible that the inclusion of current hits is a temporary measure to attract an audience by playing songs people are already used to hearing until the format is off an running with new music by older artists…. or not. I’m just spitballing.

        Anyway, even listening to commercial radio for one day has been too much for me. Now I think I’m gonna listen to some Black Flag and put my head in a blender.


  • Holy crap, WSM-FM in Nashville has already flipped over too. Cumulus is certainly efficient, I’ll give them that much.

    And they just played “Big City” by Merle Haggard!


  • Surprised to see “Boys Round Here” in the list Applejack provided, but it definitely answered a question I had … about whether new songs would be played on these stations as well. I think it could end up being a good thing for artists who DON’T bend to present trends in country music. Of course, since it’s Big Machine, the format will most likely only highlight THEIR artists for development, and not indie artists like Whitey Morgan or Ray Scott.

    Still, I’m gonna check 106.3 when I get in my car to see if I can pick up a Country Station here in Los Angeles that ISN’T pop 40 drivel. If only, if only.


    • I just checked their website and listened to it. Don’t get your hopes up: Two Tim McGraw songs I’ve heard on the radio too many times, one George Strait track, and FGL “Cruise”, then I turned it off.


      • “Cruise”, well that just ruins the whole thamn ding.


    • Checked it out again, and they have the entire playlist up that you can see on the website.
      The last 30 minutes:

      Brad Paisley
      Luke Bryan
      George Strait
      Big & Rich
      Billy Currington
      Rascal Flatts
      Lee Brice

      No difference from standard radio from what I can see. I’d hope there would be a faster change in format (if that is the plan) since they are going to scare away the exact audience it was supposedly aimed toward. From the playlist, it looks like there is one actual ‘classic’ country song mixed in for every ten or so tracks of standard radio fare.

      Seeing “Pancho & Lefty” followed by “Chillin It” is just sad on every level, and the perfect example of how far a genre of music has fallen.


  • It’ll be fun to see what happens with the NASH Icons thing in Atlanta and Kansas City, since both those frequencies in those cities are on tiny little 250-watt translators. They’re not going to have much reach. One of the classic rock stations here in San Antonio was recently switched to one of those and you can’t hear it for shit anymore on a consistent basis anywhere in the city. The Nashville and Birmingham stations are on full-power 100,000-watt sticks, though, as are a few others mentioned.


  • Nobody’s had any idea what to do with 102.1 in savannah since the Z-102 days. I say screw it and go back to “the all new Z 102!


  • after reading through the comments, i’m noticing these rebranded stations are still playing a pretty high percentage of current pop-country songs. why aren’t they committing to the change? if i was promised a “classic country” station and tuned in only to hear the very music that turned me away from mainstream country radio, i doubt i’d ever listen to said station again. also, if its some sort of “easing in” to the format change, wouldn’t it have been performed in reverse (i.e. mixing in a higher percentage of classic stuff before the changeover)?


    • I stopped listening to radio ..WAAAYY too many commercials , not to mention the bad music . I listen to satellite, cable ,You Tube …..


    • It is still very early on in the process. They could be testing consumers, there could be different playlists for different markets, they could be trying to entice listeners at the moment with more new music before switching over to older music, who knows. Or they could have absolutely no idea what they’re doing with no true hand on the rudder like most endeavors launched by companies mired in corporate bureaucracy. Time will tell.


  • There is no one on country music radio anywhere in the world who’s as good or better than WSM AM’s Eddie Stubbs. Period. That said, I’d be interested to hear who SCM readers are listening to.

    P.S. WDVX’s Hillbilly Fever on Thursday nights is pretty gang good.


  • So sad I’ll have to stop listening to Des Moines longest running radio team, Hatfield and McCoy. They were my favorite but can’t do the classics for to long.


  • I’m not which station here in Canada would or could buy into the NASH ICON format but this could only be a positive thing for REAL long- time country music fans as well as an excellent way to educate newer listeners .
    We record singer songwriters at our home studio …some quite young ….and I’m always inspired by their reactions to REAL country / acoustic / roots music- from AJ to Holly Williams , Della Mae , Musgraves , Lambert etc… I appreciate the fact that these ARE songwriters and not just listeners but most of them ‘get it ‘ right away if they aren’t already on top of the ‘good stuff” .
    A network like NASH ICONS would be like going to Country Music School for a lot of young listeners and could bode well for the future of the genre if the right ears are exposed to it .


  • I’m gonna stay positive about this endeavor. Even if they are playing “Boys ‘Round Here” and “Cruise”, they’re atleast mixing in Merle, Lee Ann Womack and Alison Krauss. This could lead to new, substantial discoveries by FGL fans that COULD perhaps nudge them to dig a bit deeper and listen a little bit closer.

    In my ideal world, there’d be a station named NO BULLSHIT FM that plays Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson, Brandy Clark, Jason Isbell, Ashley Monroe and many other talented individuals.

    Unrelated Side Note: I saw Sturgill Simpson live last night for the first time. He was as good as you’d imagine he’d be. Blowing through songs effortlessly and interacting with the crowd. He even popped a string towards the end of a song, left the stage while his band kept groovin’, came back in with fixed guitar and played along like nothing happened. My favorite moment was when he said, “We’ve already told 3 major labels to go fuck themselves. Only 2 more to go.”


  • I for one am not pleased with this change over. They took away my sports radio channel and turned in to a “classic” country channel. I know a lot of people in my area of Georgia that are not happy about this change. We already had 3-4 other country stations to choose from and now have no access to the Braves, Falcons, etc etc. Thanks alot Cumulus.


  • I live in Atlanta, and was cautiously optimistic about the switch. We already have two strong stations that saturate the airwaves with douchebilly music, so I was hoping to hear some decent music in the metro area. So much for that. All three times I’ve turned it to the new station, I’ve heard Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Blake Shelton. After getting to see Matt Woods Tuesday night in Columbus, that stuff just don’t cut it. By the way, he release an acoustic record called “Broken Strings and Beer Specials.” Pretty good stuff!


  • hey, I’d love to see one of those stations out in los angeles, even if it was just the 25- newer “classic” country.


  • Ok thats enough we want our sports radio back in Savannah. Are you kidding me! Your gonna do this just before football season!!! OMG!


  • Can’t believe this! As a sports lover I’m furious about this change. I will never let my radio stop for one second on this station again! Another country music station! Unbelievable!


  • For the love of God. Savannah did not need another country f$#%&@$ music station. Killing the variety. Put sports radio back somewhere on the FM. D.A. show was a crucial part of my early morning trip to work and Seth Harp on the way home. I know I am whining but seriously…. more country music….. we already have 5 stations that play it. I literally hate country music as of this morning because of this.


  • honestly a I don’t give a hoot about country music. I would rather listen to the old q102 hit music station in Albany Georgia then have another country station on my radio dial. I do like country but I don’t like it that much. I would like to see is that they go back to its original format and play the hits of yesterday and today. If I wanted to listen to country music I would turn my dial to 104.5FM. No more country. if you can’t do this, I will take Q 102 off my preset dial on my car radio. I like my easy listening 107.7, my Hard Rock 103.5,and some of the other radio stations. but, I would like to have my today’s hits station hit on radio that has limited country. is it is such a big issue country music alive, why don’t they start a new FM dial that has no frequency.?I mean if it is such a huge deal, instead of taking over another radio station format they should start a new radio frequency dial. This way you have best of both worlds in the same studio 1 playing today’s hits another playing country and you have, 2 people maybe 3 playing the best of both worlds. thank you for your consideration.


  • Once there was an awesome classic rock station in Albuquerque. There was no BS, no weird DJ’s, just great music. Then, one day, they went and threw in weird DJ’s and made some really annoying sound bites. I can only assume it was to easy the coming blow that the awesome classic rock station’s listeners would feel when their beloved station was replaced by a crappy country station. Thank you for taking away my favorite radio station and replacing it with the dregs of the country genre.


  • Niche formats like early rock, or traditional country, would have please some of you, but they don’t last, they don’t produce enough revenue. Here are some that have gone, AM570, Las Cruces, NM, Country, 1140 AM, LasVegas, 50’s Top 40, 840 or 870 AM, Vegas, traditional country, WYAT, New Orleans (you know where it’s at) great mix of 50’s, KOOL Gold AM, Phoenix, 50’s top 40, and oldies AM formats in Orlando and Tampa, plus 1690 AM in Chicago, 50’s oldies. Enjoyed during travels, but they didn’t last.


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