Talk of the Town - The Beat down April 22 2000

Competition could be cropping up

Atlanta's FM radio dial was staid for a while, until last fall when 95.5 The Beat hit the airwaves. Now, there's talk about yet another new player banging the teen drum.

Despite no initial ad campaign, the Beat WBTS-FM is proving that it knows what a (teenage) girl (and boy) wants. Its appearance in September was the first significant change since Hot 97.5 popped up to compete with V-103 nearly five years ago.

With a format lifted straight off MTV's "Total Request Live," spinning everything from Britney to Backstreet, word of mouth between teens has made 95.5 a hit, placing it third in last fall's Arbitron ratings for the 12-17 age group - ahead of 99X and Star 94, and behind V-103 and Hot 97.5.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this kind of music format did not exist in this market," says Lori Rechin-Sheridan, vice-president and general manager at the Beat.

Of course, it may have helped that the station, which is owned by Cox Enterprises, got a front-page story in the AJC the day after it went on the air last fall. Go figure.

Now, there's another sign that Atlanta's surprisingly open FM market is attracting more players. According to a source at Hot 97.5, plans are in the works to start a station with a playlist's to the Beat's. Radio One, the empire that owns 97.5 and Magic 107.5, reportedly has a slot on the dial picked out, somewhere around 102, to drop its own teeny-bopper signal.

"We were going to launch in the summer," says the source, "but 95.5/The Beat beat us to it. Now, we're looking toward a fall launch." Mary Catherine Sneed, general manager of Hot 97.5, wasn't available for comment.

Now, the question among Atlanta's on-air talent is whether popular former Hot 97.5 jock DJ Nabs, currently touring with Da Brat and Mariah Carey, will ink a deal with the Beat. Stay tuned. ...

Alien Elian: With virtually the entire country talking about the Elian Gonzalez situation, NBC News turned for comment to Atlanta-based lawyer Don Keenan, widely recognized as one of the country's foremost child advocacy lawyers.

"My thing is that we need to appoint (Elian) an independent advocate," the garrulous Keenan told CL over the weekend. "Someone not linked to anybody; impartial. The Justice Department has a platoon of lawyers, and his father has these public interest groups, but we still don't have an independent voice for the child."

Keenan reports that he's "up to his alligators" representing children injured in mobile homes. His Keenan Kids Foundation recently distributed 2,000 gun locks to parents of latch-key kids.

It's your burfday: Two prominent Atlantans from wildly different worlds celebrated birthdays this week. David Tufts, owner of the Condo Store, hosted his own bash April 13, at his space on the 34th floor of the Four Seasons in Midtown. Partygoers, including developers Scott Dunn, John Ayers and Rob Meyer, stayed glued to the windows all night, checking out the view while munching funky Southern foods (pimento cheese and asparagus, anyone?).

Meanwhile, embattled rapper Da Brat was feted April 12 at a surprise party thrown by So So Def Records, downtown at Mumbo Jumbo. The party celebrated the release of her latest album, Unrestricted, and also noted her 26th birthday April 14. Label head Jermaine Dupri, his father (Michael Mauldin) and friends yelled "surprise" as Da Brat's manager, Lucy Raouff, brought her into the restaurant. Da Brat started crying.

This and that: I'm not naming names, but one NBA All-Star recently told me that he is relocating to Atlanta this off-season. He said he has an apartment downtown, and a house in "Vinings, you know, for sex." ... Guinness is trying to up its presence in Atlanta by installing home draught systems for several local celebs, to help them make it through the warm summer months. Hey guys, just let me know when you want to come set it up. ... The Atlantis Music Conference has extended its deadline for urban music acts interested in being a part of Atlantis 2000. The new final deadline is April 30. For more information, call the Atlantis office at 770-499-8600, or visit www.atlantismusic.com. ... I'm out.

What's up, Atlanta? Hit me up at 404-688-5623, fax me at 404-420-1402, or e-mail me at lang@creativeloafing.com.

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