Buzz sometimes wonders if North Dallas is even aware that there's a world out there. Usually, of course, it doesn't matter. Bosnia, the budget battle, and peace in Northern Ireland, are, as we said, Out There.
But every once in a while, something happens Out There that threatens the basic essence of North Dallas life--which is, of course, shopping.
One of those threats is hurtling, like a jagged space-rock, toward the bubble right now. New York-based radio shock-jock Howard Stern will arrive just ahead of Santa (on the first day of Hanukkah, no less), and he's churning up a comparable amount of fervor among his faithful.
On Monday, Howard will sign his newest book, Miss America, at Beltline Taylors adjacent to Prestonwood Mall. From what Buzz could discern from calls to Prestonwood and Taylors, everyone seems to think this is just another ho-hum book signing, along the lines of, say, Chip Moody. But Out There, Stern has pulled mobs numbering in the thousands to signings in New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.
What does that mean to North Dallas? It means that, starting at 10 a.m. on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, thousands of Howard's fans will be jamming into all the available parking within a quarter mile of Taylors. Planning for the visit isn't completed yet, but the whole thing may kick off with a Howard parade to thank Dallas for making his show on the KEGL-Eagle number one in the morning.
The dire implications of this shoppers-vs.-fans face-off wasn't lost on Preston Royal shopping-center merchants when Borders Books was vying to win Howard's signing extravaganza. They reeled at the thought of gridlock during retail prime time--and breathed a sigh of relief, Buzz was told, when Stern's publisher decided to go with Taylors instead.
When we asked Taylors officials if any special arrangements were being made for traffic and security, they seemed genuinely baffled, then neglected to call Buzz back. And Prestonwood's management hadn't been informed that an event of such magnitude was going to erupt across the road. "Wow, that many people come to see him, huh?" marveled assistant general manager David Palamo. "It might not be a bad idea if we see if the city wants to do some traffic control."
Maybe the Selena Fan Club could provide security.
Pledge drive, anyone?
KERA president and CEO Richie Meyer probably felt pretty bad when word leaked out that his board had received an anonymous letter complaining that he and his wife, KERA vice president Susan Harmon, misused their positions to gallivant around the world--while the station endured budget cuts.
The complaints in the letter, dated in September but reported in the News just last month, should have been treated as no surprise. The Observer wrote about Meyer's travel, hefty compensation package, and other KERA issues in an August 31 cover story, headlined "Pulling the Plug."
Nonetheless, Buzz has learned, KERA board chairman Irwin Grossman responded to the letter--which blasted the board for poor oversight--by ordering an audit of the Meyers' travel and expenses. That might have rattled Meyer. However, Grossman assured the Observer--even before the audit was under way--that he believes there is "no merit to the letter."