Whatever became of the nobler aspects of rock ‘n’ roll?
You know, the part where the promoters, radio personalities and stations actually cared about the artists, fans and listeners? As opposed to declaring war on one another over small-minded, petty, percieved self interests?
Remember the "Save the Buzz" campaign several years back to try and rescue KC’s then-failing, only alternative rock radio station? Parent company Entercom had marked The Buzz for extinction. Word leaked out. And not less than corporate overlord David Field personally rode to the Buzz’s rescue, vowing it would continue.
Things like the radio station’s Church of Lazlo came to mean something more than merely a repository for corporate cash.
Which brings us to Entercom’s fully declared war upon KanRocksas, KC’s largest two-day rock fest ever.
Despite the fact that KanRocksas is fielding a slate of artists that are card-carrying members of Lazlo’s church, Entercom has refused to even accept fully-paid advertising from the festival. Leaving fans of the artists that the station plays in the dark as to their August appearances at the Kansas Speedway.
"We have our own concerts to promote," says local Entercom head Dave Alpert. "We own the Buzz Under the Stars and we own Beach Ball and Rockfest. So we’re in the concert business ourselves."
Iconic local rock promoter Chris Fritz doesn’t quite get it..
"That’s what he told me," Fritz says of Alpert’s refusal to allow KanRocksas to buy ads on the one and only area alternative station. "That they’re in the concert business and they’re competing with us. And they’re not going to do anything to help us."
In other words, Entercom and The Buzz are doing what they can to make KanRocksas fail.
"So unfortunately we have to move on," Fritz says. "Which is too bad, because so many of the acts we have playing are Buzz acts."
Is owning the only alternative station in KC and refusing to sell ads restraint of trade?
Apparently not, radio insiders say. But it sure doesn’t look good. Nor does it bode well for The Buzz and Entercom’s relationships with the Kansas Speedway, Sandstone and the area concert promoters from whom they have been and continue to accept ad dollars from for other area shows.
"I thought they were in the radio business to sell time," Fritz muses. "But they told us it was a corproate decision. We offered them a great deal – they could have made a lot of money with (KanRocksas)."
Not only is the Buzz refusing to sell KanRocksas radio ads, it mocked the fest on its Web site.
“Now, there are a lot of things we would spend 200 bucks on … a high class call girl, a shopping spree at Forever 21 or Valtrex," the Buzz sniped. "But camping on a race track, pissin’ in a portapotty and watching a white rapper ain’t one of ’em…."
"I think that was pretty rude, not very cool, but whatever," Fritz says.
The rub being The Buzz wants to sell tickets two weeks later to its Beach Ball concert at Livestrong Park.
"We’re not trying to compete with them," Fritz says. "But you know, they can do what they want to do. I do think it’s unfair – it’s not a level playing field. I look at it as two separate things. And I would think their audience would be like, ‘Why don’t we ever hear anything about KanRocksas.’ "