WKHX

Cumulus Media relaunched country WKHX-FM Atlanta as “New Country 101 Five” with a focus on the station’s Georgia roots.

Just after 3pm Thursday, a station production piece highlighted the history of Atlanta’s longest-running country station: “The year was 1959, Dolly Parton records her very first song… and George Jones scores his first number one hit with ‘White Lightning,’” the promo announced. “And in Atlanta 101.5 FM becomes Atlanta’s first FM country music station.” The piece continues to tell the story of WKHX, which added the “Kicks” moniker in 1981, highlighting the vast amount of country stars who hail from the state. “Today Georgia’s proud country music tradition continues as we launch the 101.5 frequency into the 21st century,” the promo continues. “This is a brand-new station celebrating Georgia’s best and all the music that means so much to you, welcome to ‘New Country 101 Five.’”

Macon native Jason Aldean’s “Dirt We Were Raised On” was the first song in an hour of music exclusively from Georgia country artists.

After Aldean, longtime station voice Dallas McCade cracked the mic to introduce the new station and let the audience know that JJ Kincaid will be joining her in mornings on “New Country 101 Five.” Kincaid arrived at Cumulus Atlanta in October, with a brief appearance on CHR sister Q 99.7” WWWQ. Corey Dylan remains in middays, while format veteran Lucas Phelan joins for afternoons. Phelan was most recently PD/afternoon host at Entercom “102.9 The Wolf” KMNB Minneapolis, exiting earlier in November. Current afternoon host Scott Gaines announced he would be leaving the station, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“This station is born of the most prolific time in history for Georgia musicians. New Country 101 Five reflects these artists’ views and the way they see the world,” recently installed PD Mike Moore said in a release. “Their collective sense of pride in being from Georgia forms the common ground that they share with our listeners. You’ll hear it in the station – its music, but also from the voices of the artists and listeners themselves, who share memories and stories of their lives within the New Country 101 Five community.”

The station had promos on the air signaling a big change coming at 3pm Thursday (Nov.14). The use of a wolf howling sound effect in the promo, led to speculation that the new moniker would be Wolf-centric, especially with Moore’s most recent position as VP of Programming for Entercom’s Portland cluster and PD of country “99.5 The Wolf” KWJJ-FM.

“New Country 101 Five is the passion project of an enormous team, including internal and external creatives, writers, artists, musicians and music-industry friends,” Executive VP Brian Philips added. “We hit the ground this summer, and the ‘Georgia’ idea sprang to life, as if it were meant to be, at this time and place. Cumulus is proud of the youthful fun, fire and excitement of this new station. We will work on the air and in the streets to give these hungry fans the station they are owed—made in Georgia and loved around the world.”

WKHX has been undergoing what could be described as a restructuring during the past year. Longtime morning host Cadillac Jack exited in July. His co-host Ali Mac was let go in January. Mac’s replacement, Dylan assumed middays upon Cadillac’s summer departure with McCade returning to mornings solo.