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Archive for Friday, September 3, 1999

KLZR HEADING TO MAINSTREAM

September 3, 1999

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Marilyn Manson is out and Jewel is in for the Lazer, which is evolving into Lawrence's "mainstream" radio station.

Lawrence's "modern rock" is getting softer to gain strength in a competitive radio market.

The Lazer, KLZR-105.9 FM, is adding popular music to its play list while tuning out some alternative selections after listener research conducted earlier this year in Lawrence.

"The plan is to attract more listeners so we can sell more advertising," said Hank Booth, general manager for the Lazer and its sister station, KLWN.

How to get there: Go mainstream, said Chad Elliot, program director.

"Basically we're taking off that real hard-edge rock and roll, like the Marilyn Manson," he said. "We don't play that stuff anymore.

"We're evolving into a family-friendly radio station that mothers and daughters and sons can listen to -- a mainstream station. That's what the research showed Lawrence wanted."

The Zimmer Radio Group, which owns the Lazer and its AM sister station, KLWN, spent more than $40,000 this year for research conducted by Joint Communications, the same company that helped shape programming for cable television's VH-1.

The research found that playing Jewel, Paula Cole, Smash Mouth and Better Than Ezra would attract and retain more listeners than groups such as Godsmack, Elliot said.

But don't expect the station to swing too far from its alternative roots.

"We're not going to play Celine Dion," Elliot said.

The Lazer ranks as the No. 3 FM station for Topeka and has about 100,000 listeners in the Kansas City area, where its signal strength varies, Elliot said. But the Lazer's core market remains Lawrence, where officials want to appeal to more than teens and college students and attract more females, working families and young adults.

The reformulation started three weeks ago, aiming for a target demographic of 25-34 years old.

"It's just a slow, gradual evolution," said Elliot, who took over for longtime program director Roger Formanek, who left the station last month. "It's going to last two, maybe three more weeks."

Elliot came from WCIL, a Zimmer station with a Top 40 format in Carbondale, Ill., home to Southern Illinois University. Zimmer -- which owns more than 30 stations in nine markets in Missouri and Southern Illinois -- bought the Lazer and KLWN a year ago.

Bob Newton, station manager for the Lazer and KLWN, said no further changes were expected for the station's 35-member workforce, other than moving a morning deejay into a full-time production slot.

KLWN will continue to provide local information, he said, and may expand its news coverage from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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