Zoom Culture Creates More Buzz — Acquires “Universal Buzz” and Plans TV Show

Popular radio show to be turned into TV program as well by Zoom’s videographers; program host, three others to relocate to Chapel HillBuilding on its success in selling video produced by college students to television networks and airing the segments online, Zoom Culture is expanding into the music scene with its first acquisition.

Zoom has closed on its purchase of Rochester, N.Y.-based “Universal Buzz”, Zoom President and Chief Executive Officer Marty Lafferty confirms to LTW. He wouldn’t provide details of the deal’s terms.

Formal announcement of the deal is expected Wednesday.

Universal Buzz produces a one-hour weekly radio show of alternative rock music that is syndicated on 40 college and non-commercial radio stations nationwide and boasts a listening audience of 3.2 million. The show has boosted the careers of Kid Rock and other promising groups.

Music TV show planned

Lafferty says Zoom will expand the show into a television show as well, featuring concert footage and interviews with up-and-coming artists shots by Zoom’s army of Generation X videographers. Universal Buzz already has a library of 300 live performances and interviews that can also be tapped for online audio.

“This will provide us with further inroads to the music business and music television,” he says. Lafferty adds that plans already are in the works for a fall concert tour of artists featured on the television show and other cross-promotional efforts.

Zoom began casting about for a music partner after the stunning ratings garnered by Hip-Hop Nation: Notes from the Underground. The show, produced in conjunction with WNCN-TV, the NBC owned and operated station in the Triangle, aired at 1 a.m. Sundays during the November sweeps period and was the top-rated show in its time slot, attracting twice as many viewers as expected.

“We were getting calls from other (television) markets asking what we had,” Lafferty says. “We’re trying to expand that franchise. Hip-hop is just one genre that appeals to 18- to 24-year-olds.”

Team to move to Chapel Hill

The company also is looking to expand into other franchises, with plans to produce 25 television and online programs geared toward a college-age audience in areas from sports to comedy to reality television. Zoom saves time if it can find a partner that already has developed an idea, like Universal Buzz, Lafferty says, but he declines to say if other acquisitions are in the works.

Tommy Brunett, the former musician who founded Universal Buzz in the mid-1990s and serves as its on-air talent, was traveling to the Triangle Monday and couldn’t be reached for comment. Three other Universal Buzz employees will shift to Zoom’s Chapel Hill office along with Brunett: a talent scout and bookings agent, a business development officer and a former Sony Music manager who Lafferty says will work with other Zoom franchises, such as online screen tests for aspiring actors.