How a survivalist radio station failed

You Can’t Make this Stuff Up

In 1968, having served his country with honour in the Vietnam War, 25 year-old Billy-Bob Browning founded the Livaliddelonga survival equipment chain from his basement in the tiny town of Whynot, North Carolina.

By the time he was 50, Browning had made his fortune by promoting a survivalist lifestyle on the back of decades of “end times” conspiracies.  Having become a multi-billionaire, he jumped to the inevitable conclusion that it automatically qualified him to be a font of wisdom with licence to preach his own worldview to anyone who’d listen. As the character Tevye sang in the Broadway hit ‘If I Were a Rich Man:’ “When you’re rich, they think you really know.”

Looking around for a suitable platform for his electronic soapbox, Browning settled on radio. And why not? Radio had contributed much to his sales success over many years with a constant advertising and promotional schedule that was the baseload for reaching his target audience found in abundance on conservative talk radio – not mention hard rock and country formats too.

That’s not to say, that Browning didn’t spend serious money on socials as well as television. Having studied the teachings of Professor Mark Ritson, he well understood the exponentially enhanced share of voice that a well-co-ordinated campaign on multiple platforms that include radio in the mix, can yield.

Now that he was mega-rich, Browning could buy his own radio network and set his own agenda. He vowed to preside over a beacon for free speech where anyone could express their thoughts without fear of retribution except, of course, if their views did not align with his.

To cut a long story short, Browning found the first station from which to build his network in Wilmington North Carolina only a few hours’ drive from Whynot. The station callsign was/is WAZO 107.5FM. He bought the station for a song and immediately commenced a complete overhaul of the studio complex which was to be built 14 metres underground inside a reinforced concrete bunker designed to withstand a major nuclear attack.

A launch date for the new WAZO was set for March 24 with a spectacular promotion dubbed Down the WAZO (in his wisdom, Browning personally came up with the name.) All staff were to be dressed in camouflage army fatigues and a mountain of goods from the Livaliddelonga catalogue were to be given away. After which the new owner would cut the ribbon to the studio survival bunker, the on-air staff would take their places and the new WAZO would come to life.

The night before the grand opening a very proud Mr Browning was making a final inspection of the magnificent studios as he reflected on how far he’d come and what he had made of his life. As he was the last to leave, it was left to him to create and enter the master password that would set or release the tamper proof electronic locks on command. Still possessed of a reliable photographic memory, he memorised the password rather than write it down or take a photo, lest it get into the wrong hands. He finally got to bed around 1:30am.

The next day, everything was in readiness as an unexpectedly large crowd began surging into the launch area. The promotion looked as if it would be a huge success. But the, now 81-year-old, President, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Billy-Bob Browning was nowhere to be seen and he wasn’t answering his mobile.

With less than half an hour before the ribbon cutting ceremony and the opening of the studios, for which only Browning knows the code, they rushed to his hotel room. Medics were already on the scene but it was too late. He’d passed from an apparent heart attack.

The great survivalist failed to survive.

Join us next April 1st to find out how they did or didn’t get into the studio.

Apologies to WAZO 107.5FM, the town of Whynot and anyone named Billy-Bob Browning.

Main pic: Wikipedia.

Peter Saxon