In the corporate crosshairs, a standout station struggles to stay alive.

Buzz Off? 

In the corporate crosshairs, a standout station struggles to stay alive.

Page 5 of 5

Thursday, June 26


A curious calm has come over the station. The Buzz staff, based on this week's positive developments, has cautiously upgraded its condition from terminal to critical. Kenny and Afentra revert to pre-crisis behavior, bantering about single life and bargaining away White Stripes tickets. Lazlo still asks listeners for job openings, but for the most part he sounds upbeat, and the show proceeds as if it had been taped months earlier. However, at 6 p.m., listeners who wait too long to turn back after a commercial break get a jolt when the Buzz begins broadcasting the Royals game. Those who were paying close attention caught the brief warning from Lazlo: "This is what you'll be getting soon."

Listeners panic about what seems to be a sudden format change. Danny Boi arrives in the studio at 6:30 p.m. and sees every call-indicator light glowing. He notices that the game is being simulcast from another Entercom property, Royals flagship station KMBZ 980. It's just a case, he says, of "Lazlo being Lazlo," testing his listeners' cardiac conditions and possibly violating that omnipresent Major League Baseball warning about inappropriate broadcast, transmission or reproduction of the game in any form without express written permission.

Back at the studio, Danny Boi soothes jumpy callers. Then, like many others who have survived near-death experiences, he decides to find religion. He places an on-air call to The 700 Club's prayer line and tells the operator his woes. "What's happening is, we're losing our jobs," he explains. "We need God's help."

"Father God, I lift Danny Boi up to you," begins a two-minutes-plus response that soon takes an unexpected turn. "We pray right now for this station that this station will become a Christian station and your word will be preached over this airtime," the volunteer improvises.

"We're saved," Danny Boi rejoices. Until he signs off for the night, he describes the station at each break as the "divine-protected Buzz."

Sunday, June 29


At the end of a relatively low-key weekend that allowed the Buzz's sleep-deprived, stress-ridden, full-time personalities to rest and enjoy a White Stripes concert at Memorial Hall, the Drive-In cast reassembles. Not coincidentally, there's been a surge in both listener and commercial interest in the show since Danny Boi announced the station's tenuous status a week ago. Advertisers have bought ten minutes of air time; two weeks earlier, not a single spot had been sold. And the Drive-In attracts 26 request calls; during several of them, listeners express their willingness to do anything they can to help the station stay afloat.

Such promising signs can only go so far toward alleviating the painful uncertainty. Danny Boi still has no guarantee that he'll be around for another Drive-In, and he vows on the air to enjoy this show as if it were his last. But the past week's shows of support suggest that, contrary to conventional corporate wisdom and recent ratings, attracting listeners and embracing local music and progressive programming might not be mutually exclusive. They've also made a disc jockey who identifies with the songs of the alienated feel as if he belongs.

"Whatever happens, I take the stance that Kansas City wants us here," Danny Boi says.

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