Although it only just happened last week, the reverberations of the Buzz 103.1's format shift are being felt deeply in South Florida.
More than 225 comments have piled up on the original news report of the Buzz leaving the FM dial posted on December 5, and subsequent entries focus on the sexist tone of the NOW 103.1's entry into the marketplace, and regarding the effect the shift will have on local concert promotion and how many rock shows that come to South Florida.
Regarding the second point, we decided to phone up Jeff John, managing partner at Revolution in downtown Fort Lauderdale. As a long-time partner with the Buzz in terms of promotion, John was saddened by the loss of a huge megaphone for his many rock shows -- but the news isn't all bad. A portion of our conversation is below.
How has the format shift affected the way you promote local shows?
Jeff John: It's tough especially being a rock venue. I mean, 93 Rock is gone. Zeta's gone. The Buzz is gone. It started when The Buzz changed the format five, six months ago, what ever it was. They went from little indie and alternative bands to going to somewhat of a Big 105.9 format of the AC/DC and bands like that. The Buzz was always a great partner with us. Regardless if they played them or not, they would support all of our events. And then they did that whole format change and didn't want to support the little indie bands that we do and the little breaking bands that we do and now they're totally gone. It's tough because how does a guy like me go invest tens of thousands of dollars in these bands and try to put on these new up-and-coming bands or underground bands for the kids in town that there's no avenue to promote it.
My fear is now the bands aren't being played in the market place so if
I'm the band why am I going to go play that market where I'm not even
being played? I'm just going to skip it all together.
You said this change began months ago, so how have you adapted?
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Most of these kids are so wired into the internet and social media now that they either know when the band is coming because they're on the band's website or they get Facebooked or they get tagged. All these bands aren't even on the radio anywhere unless you're in a major city. So, you're finding these bands whether it's online, you're finding them either on the MySpace or the Facebook or you're hearing it on satellite radio. When you really break it down, will it affect us? Yeah. But how much? I don't know. We'll have to see that. The sad thing is there's no outlet even if you wanted it.
Did you see the Buzz's exit from FM coming?
I had a feeling when they changed formats five, six months ago it was only a matter of time before this happened, because what do you do? You've been around a while now and you see it. They had the niche with the alternative, the punk, the indie. That is what they had the young kids cultivated around. I don't know what the Buzz Bake Sale did this year. But I can tell you what -- Staind as a headliner didn't even play. How do they just tear that event apart? That was something cool that all the kids looked forward too. It was a hang out. "Hey we're going to the Bake Sale. We're going to have fun." Twenty thousand people, 18,000 people. And this year they didn't even...you put Staind as a headliner? I didn't understand that.
Losing the Buzz certainly does change how you can track what's happening in the local market.
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Who knows if Bill and Mary who live in Palm Beach are hearing these bands? Maybe they can't afford Sirius radio. Maybe they don't have the Internet and maybe their station was The Buzz, and they're diehard music fans and concert goers and they heard all of our promotions on The Buzz. Maybe they're 35 years old and not Facebook people. How are they going to know about my shows now? If you break it down it definitely puts a damper on it because regardless of the fact when announce "hey, next caller, caller 10 wins two tickets to see Arctic Monkeys and we're going to do this three times a day for a week." The one thing that everyone could get is radio. Whether it's in their car, rinky-dink transistor radio at home, they could get a local radio station. So it hurts. It was great because they reached the demographic all the way up to Indiantown to basically North Lauderdale. It's not like the city life up in Indiantown in Palm Beach. You hit a good demographic of people up there and I'm going to miss that for sure.
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