Variable Buzz... Over the last few months, radio insiders have been predicting major changes at the Buzz. Some have even hinted that the station might switch formats to (ugh) adult contemporary. And with the recent weeding out of artists such as Marilyn Manson and Tool from KTBZ's playlist, one has to wonder: Is the Buzz going soft?

Hardly, says KTBZ General Manager Ellen Cavanaugh, though she admits there have been some changes. "[We] are not an adult contemporary station; [we] are a modern rock station," she claims. "We have removed some of the harder artists, but we still play Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden -- a lot of our core artists remain."

That edgier, gloom-and-doom stuff was actually "impeding the station's growth," says Cavanaugh. "The really super-negative, nihilistic, Beavis and Butt-Head, chainsaw-on-the-chalkboard stuff. It's not mainstream enough. The grunge factor has diminished, and the angry attitude so prevalent back then is gone. What worked in 1989-'90 doesn't work today."

To aid in the Buzz's transition from a heavier alternative format to what the station calls "mainstream modern rock," an old cohort of Cavanaugh's, Californian Jim Trapp, has taken over as program director, replacing his one-name predecessor, Cruz. "Nothing negative" can be made of Cruz's departure, says Cavanaugh, adding that the parting of ways was inevitable. "We have different paths to take," she says.

And Cavanaugh gives her assurance that the Buzz isn't headed down some wimpy path. "Mainstream does not equal watered-down, diluted, wussy music," she says.

Maybe so. But something tells me Beavis wouldn't approve.

-- Hobart Rowland

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