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As Laz shifts from Miami party legend to bicoastal radio personality, he has hardly abandoned the cheesy staged skits like John and Karla's tiff. He has simply supplemented them with serious interviews such as Obama's call-in and breaking gossip news like a Justin Bieber 911 call he aired before TMZ publicized it a few months ago.
It's a move that Laz hopes will pay off with a new, broader fan base, but so far that's only a hope. As of November 6, Arbitron ranked DJ 106.7 FM 21st among South Florida's 35 AM and FM stations — 14 spots below Power 96, which is rated seventh. In Los Angeles, 96.3 is the 25th most listened-to station of 50 in the market.
"Laz was with Power 96 for so long he's been typecast," Rosenberg says. "It's going to be hard for people not to associate him with Power 96."
Still, even if ratings haven't immediately followed Laz to his new perch, he's made waves. Landing the president, in fact, scored the DJ more press than any move since his booty-bass days. Conservative pundits went bananas over the commander in chief granting an interview to a man dubbed "the Pimp With the Limp." Right-wing columnist Clarence McKee, for one, opined that Obama "cheapened the office of the president of the United States" by appearing on Laz's show.
"You had Fox News making fun of Obama because he didn't make time to meet with Israeli leaders but had time to go on the air with Laz," Corben says. "That's moving the needle."
It's an open question how long Laz's new two-coast experiment will last. If listeners don't start turning the dial toward his shows, it might be a short-term deal. Mike Reyes, the former producer at El Zol, questions whether Laz's new employer has the patience to stick with him. "I doubt he will stay there long-term," Reyes concludes.
But Laz disagrees, insisting his bosses at SBS understand he has to rebuild his brand name. "When you are fighting a 22-year career at another radio station, it is going to take a lot of word of mouth and advertising for people to realize Laz is back," he says. "I think 80 percent of the people in Miami don't know this station exists or that I am here."
Either way, Laz just looks at his past for inspiration. He was too stubborn not to walk, too stubborn to give up on crowds that mocked him, too stubborn to let tragedy slow him down.
"In my son's room, there's a hand-painted quote on his wall that reads 'You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take,' " Laz says. "That's always stuck with me. In life, there is no reward for not taking a risk."
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