Archive for Thursday, September 30, 1999

S BUILDING VANDALIZED AGAIN

September 30, 1999

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The KLZR's station manager voiced his displeasure about a supposed former listener who is using vandalism to protest a format change.

For the second time in as many nights, vandals struck a Lawrence radio station, and police say the most recent attack is connected to the station's format change.

Someone tossed a softball with anti-KLZR 105.9 FM statements through a window at the offices of the station, also known as the Lazer. The building, 3125 W. Sixth St., also houses the offices of sister station KLWN. Both stations are owned by Zimmer Broadcasting Inc.

"Obviously, I'm concerned that someone would take their frustrations out in an illegal and potentially dangerous way," station manager Bob Newton said.

"There are people working in the building, and someone broke the window, sending shards of glass flying that easily could have injured someone."

One disc jockey was working at 4:22 a.m. Wednesday when the softball flew through the window, spraying glass throughout the studio, but no one was injured.

Lawrence Police Sgt. Richard Nickell said there was "writing indicating displeasure with the change in format" on the softball, but he wouldn't say what had been written on the ball.

Police have the softball, and Nickell said police hope to lift fingerprints from it.

The softball caused $150 in damage to the window, which faces Gateway Court.

At 2:22 a.m. Tuesday, someone shattered a pane in the same window, causing $125 in damage. There wasn't any evidence left behind, and Nickell said there is no certainty that incident was linked to the format change. KLZR officials boarded up that window, but didn't board up the adjacent pane.

"There's no indication that it's the same person or group of people, but it is a similar attack," Nickell said.

The window blinds were across the window both nights, and there weren't any witnesses.

The station recently enacted a gradual format change despite an outcry from listeners that included a protest and petition.

The station's former alternative rock format led Rolling Stone magazine to label it one of the "Top 10 Stations That Don't Suck" in the United States.

Station officials said they have been gradually changing the station's format, following a study that found playing Top 40 music would increase the listener base.

"I understand people who like the music we were playing before might be unhappy with the music we are playing now," Newton said. "Certainly we anticipated we would hear from those people. If in fact this window breaking incident was related to that, I'm very disappointed.

"I certainly wouldn't be proud to claim them as a listener of the station, past or present," he said.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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