When the Shaq Attack became the Shaq Evac (star center Shaquille O'Neal bailed from the Lakers and headed to the Miami Heat last week), he left the city of Los Angeles littered with 33 Clear Channel billboards that seem to mock his former fans and former radio home. The Xtra Sports 690/1150 AM ads, done in-house, feature a gigantic closeup of the 7-foot-1 behemoth with the words "My city. My station. Just listen."
Says Don Martin, program director and station manager: "We've contemplated a bonfire downtown, but we don't think the city would be so happy about that." (It wouldn't be the first time.) "Or maybe taking them down and inviting fans to a paintball contest. Or encircling Shaq's face and stamping letters saying the station has been repossessed."
Martin says whatever he does with his investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars will be firmly "tongue-in-cheek. Our relationship with him was outstanding. We just thought he'd be around for a while." (The station signed the contract with Shaq last November. His exit also renders some of Xtra Sports' on-air promotions obsolete.)
Other athletes—baseball players, ex-Lakers, even ex-Raiders (from the time before they moved back to Oakland)—have volunteered to replace Shaq on the ads. "Ideally, for me, Kobe [Bryant] would be the guy," Martin says. (Did this guy not learn his lesson?) Still, he's open to suggestions: Send ideas to "Contact Us" at XtraSportsRadio.com, and you could win a prize of Shaq-like proportions.