Lex and Terry's wet dream

Page 5 of 7

The next Arbitron book is due out in mid-January, and it will reflect the first full quarter in which Lex and Terry were on the air without Stern. It will also reflect the show's fall promotional and advertising campaigns.

There are two ways a show can be syndicated. The first is to sell the show to radio stations outside the corporation that owns the program. In those cases, the show makes money off of the syndication fee it charges the station, which is determined by the size of the market and success of the program.

Welpton will not say how much he's charging for The Lex and Terry Show, but it's safe to say that, at least for now, the program can be had at bargain prices. As part of Welpton's sales kit, the show is described as an "affordable major market radio show."

As part of the package, potential buyers are told that the show comes with a dependable satellite service, scheduled breaks so local news and traffic can be inserted, and the marketing and advertising support of SFX. Those amenities are especially attractive to stations in small- and medium-sized markets, which don't have the patience to groom local talent.

"People begin to realize that for a little more [money], they could get someone out of a major market that they would never dream of having," Welpton says. "They could probably get local talent for a little bit less money, but they won't get a major-market morning show and the ratings."

The other way for a show to be syndicated is for its owner, in this case SFX, to place the show on its own stations and hope that listeners will come calling. This is the route that Lex and Terry most likely will follow.

"Where our region is and where we'll break out of will be somewhere southeast, maybe East Coast [and the] eastern seaboard," KTXQ's Fant predicts. "Texas and that area will be the first place."

And it's no coincidence: SFX's presence is strongest in Texas and throughout southern states such as North and South Carolina, and it carries up the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine.

Fant says the reason SFX signed a five-year contract with Lex and Terry and is now spending several hundred thousand dollars syndicating the show is simple: It's a new way of making money.

"Besides selling 60-second commercial time, we have something else we can do: We can sell programming. Wall Street demands that we continue to find new sources of revenue, and this is one of them," Fant says. "When you're successful with syndication, every new affiliate is essentially pure profit. You've already paid your costs. To license the rights for some other station or outlet to carry our programming essentially adds no fixed cost. It just adds to your net profit."

And the key to making a show successful, Fant says, is promoting it and supplying it with national celebrities, who will attract more listeners and keep the show fresh.

"You don't need to do it every morning, but on a regular basis you want to be able to pop in with a great comic [or] someone that the audience would be able to recognize from television," Fant says.

In recent months, SFX has arranged interviews with NFL junkie and struggling actor Howie Long, Alan Thicke, and Denis Leary, as well as David Lee Roth--all of whom have stood out amid the steady stream of strippers supplied by local titty bars. Fant won't discuss exactly how SFX is helping to arrange the celebrity interviews, except to say that "informally, all of us have industry contacts. We all endeavor to bring whatever influence we have into play so that we can fuel the show with that kind of guest."

The timing of the show's advertisements is similarly calculated. In September, SFX paid for a television commercial that ran on several Dallas stations. The ad depicted a dying boy who asked Lex and Terry to help save his life by doing just one more funny show. The commercial then cut to a shot of Lex and Terry standing over the boy's grave, at which point Staley says, "I thought it was a funny show."

The commercial was yanked from several television stations after viewers reportedly complained that it was offensive. Shortly after the commercial was pulled, SFX replaced it with a second commercial that appeared just a little too preconceived. In that ad, Lex and Terry are standing at the grave when the boy approaches them and asks what they're doing. "Making a new TV commercial because of you," they respond.

Several days after the controversy garnered local and national press, SFX smoothly launched the show's syndication by flying Lex and Terry to New Orleans so they could broadcast live during the annual NAB convention.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Rose Farley
Contact: Rose Farley