The Oakland Press - On The Radio, July 23 2004
Beginning in October, Clear Channel radio stations across the country will cut back the "clutter" in the hopes of getting listeners to stay with their stations longer.
The company's 1,200-plus stations will first limit the amount of promotional announcements and in January, will cut back on the number and length of commercial breaks.
The plan is for some music formats to limit ad time to 12 minutes an hour during morning drive and fewer than that during other periods. Commercial breaks will be no longer than 4 minutes, or six ads, on such stations; news, talk, and information formats will have a slightly higher limit.
The chain hopes the changes will pressure advertisers to pay more for each commercial because of the supposed larger impact each spot will have on listeners.
Clear Channel's local stations include adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3); Top 40 WQKI-FM (95.5); urban WJLB-FM (97.9); soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3); rock WDTW-FM (106.7); sports WDFN-AM (1130); and talk WXDX-AM (1310).
You can bet one of the driving factors behind this is the commercial-free music channels on satellite radio. With more than 2.5 million subscribers, sat-cast listeners have a hard time returning to "regular radio" simply because of the amount of commercials.
Here's hoping this plan is followed by other broadcasters - and that it lasts!
Continuing on the Radio Innovation Front, they flipped the switch on Ibiquity digital broadcasts at Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5) last week.
The system offers CD-quality sound - and the ability to provide song titles, artists and more on the dial read-out.
While consumer receivers have just debuted for such services, stations hope that those who make car radios will rapidly integrate this into standard car audio systems, as one way to compete with satellite casters on a more level playing field.
Rock WRIF-FM (101.1) is a finalist for radio's prestigious 2004 Marconi Award as Rock Station of the Year and 'RIF's top-rated morning duo of Drew Lane and Mike Clark also are up for a Marconi as Major Market Personalities of the Year.
The awards will be announced Oct. 7 by National Association of Broadcasters.
Set Your Dials: Host Alison Harris profiles the Ron Smolen Orchestra, a Chicago big band of today, playing the music of yesterday. Tune in at 3 p.m. Sunday on WRCJ-FM (90.9).
Mike Austerman is the publisher of the Internet site Michiguide.com.