Lex and Terry's wet dream

Michael Lile stood patiently outside the gate of the grand prix racetrack inside the Malibu SpeedZone in North Dallas, intently watching pint-sized cars wheel around the track in their fervid race to post the fastest time on the house clock.

Behind him, a sparse crowd fueled by Miller High Life roamed the sprawling grounds, which consist of a "slick" go-cart track and a drag strip where imitation race cars send speed junkies screaming down a 220-yard track at 70 mph for 15 bucks a pop.

On this crisp Tuesday evening, Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin is there for fun, his bodyguard stationed at his side, but the evening's official attractions are Lex Staley and Terry Jaymes, the hosts of the new Lex and Terry Show, which airs during the morning-drive slot on Q102-FM (KTXQ).

Lile is an avid Lex and Terry fan.
The slender, 22-year-old U.S. Postal Service employee is sporting a Wayne's World baseball cap and a black F-16 Fighting Falcon T-shirt. Lile says he had been meaning to check out the SpeedZone, but when he heard that Lex and Terry were going to be there to pimp their show and Q102, he jumped at the chance to meet his favorite DJs.

The promotional appearance is one of several the duo have made since May, when they brought their show to Dallas from Jacksonville, Florida, where they dominate the morning airwaves and have become local celebrities.

Lile's opportunity arrives when Staley throws his race car into park, pulls his considerable weight out of the car's tiny confines, and lumbers off the track. Jaymes follows behind, his 6-foot-3-inch frame towering above the crowd of low-budget thrill seekers.

Lile's eyes bulge with excitement as he extends his hand and tells Staley that he loves his show--especially when they call up 1-900 numbers and play sound bites from Wayne's World. The best, Lile says, was when Wayne's voice said "a sphincter says what," and they tricked a woman into saying "what" four times.

Jaymes, meanwhile, stands to the side, preoccupied. Earlier that day, the 36-year-old California native bought his dream car, a blue 1996 Porsche. The car is used, but Jaymes is still nervous about the most expensive purchase of his life. After all, the days when he was living in his car are not so far away.

For Lex and Terry, the jump from Jacksonville, the nation's 50th-largest radio market, to the 7th-ranked Dallas market represents a major career move: It's their one, and possibly only, chance to shine in a major market. And not just in Dallas, but across the country.

In September, The Lex and Terry Show became the only Dallas-based morning radio show to launch a national syndication effort. In the coming months, they hope to take their live call-in show, complete with 1-900 gags, fart jokes, and interviews with strippers, to markets across the country. So far, the show is on the air in Dallas, Jacksonville, and Savannah, Georgia, and is expected to begin airing in Key West next month.

For two guys approaching middle age who still relish pontificating about which celebrities they would screw, the syndication effort is their chance to prove that they can compete with Howard Stern, Don Imus, and the other kings of morning radio.

But for SFX Broadcasting, which is financing the syndication effort, its five-year contract with Lex and Terry is hardly a love affair, and knocking Stern off his throne has little to do with the financial success of the relationship.

Rather, the syndication effort is a marriage of convenience in the chaotic world of radio broadcasting, where the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act has sparked a mind-boggling frenzy of corporate buyouts and mergers. As a dwindling number of corporations divvy up the nation's radio markets, executives are scouring the country for talent to feed their growing empires.

Thanks to Howard Stern, who proved that morning radio need not be locally produced to be a financial gold mine, the syndication of morning talk shows is an increasingly popular corporate strategy. In it, local talent is replaced by syndicated DJs who have proven they can deliver more consistent ratings and, therefore, attract more advertising dollars in markets across the board.

"You do not have to be in Top 10 markets to be successful," says KTXQ Vice President and General Manager Patrick Fant. "That's not to say we won't try. I think we'll be in a couple of 'em, [but] that's not a measure of success. We can certainly make great money and be very successful in the Top 100 markets."

Consistency is where the money lies, and, not surprisingly, the new wave of syndicated shows relies on time-tested humor that is as predictable and stale as the formats of the stations they air on.