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Cachet of N.Y. radio market unmatched.

It has been a strong year for radio advertising sales nationwide, and many in the industry see the New York metro area market on the leading edge of this growth. Certainly, the generally favorable economic climate is cited as a major reason. And while the consolidation seen in other radio markets since deregulation kicked in a few years ago has not been as apparent in Gotham, it is starting to have a positive impact on New York radio revenues, as multiple-station ownership increases.

"The advertising agency world is going through its own consolidations, and that seems to be focusing back on New York and the New York marketplace," observes Marc Guild, president of the marketing division at Interep, a sales organization.

The numbers are beginning to reflect this. Recently released figures from the Radio Advertising Bureau show local and national ad sales grew 10% for the first half of the year nationwide. At the same time, numbers from Interep for New York City show an increase of 30% for January through June, when compared with the same period last year.

No glamour

Liz Fox, supervisor of local broadcast for Zenith Media, now co-owned by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and Bates USA, credits this growth in part to advertiser perception. "I think radio has been underutilized, because of the glamour associated with television, and the fact that TV allows you to actually see your spot," she observes. "But the way TV is going, with all the national networks, radio is the only way you can get the local flavor of the market. It is a truly local medium, and a lot more clients are realizing the potential. I also think there is a certain cachet about being in New York that some clients don't feel in other markets."

"It is one of the most viable and strong markets in the country," agrees Gary Fries, president of the Radio Advertising Bureau. "In New York we're seeing all of the positive elements. It is a leading market where all the various programming elements are listenable as you go up and down the dial."

Consolidation also is beginning to have a positive impact on advertising sales. While Duncan's American Radio, a newsletter for the industry, rates the consolidation rate in New York as "low," especially compared with other markets, it is starting to become noticeable. Most obvious of the multistation holders is Westinghouse/CBS, which now owns two all-news stations, WINS and WCBS, as well as all-sports talker WFAN, all on the am band, as well as WCBS-FM (oldies), WXRK-FM (new rock and Howard Stern's morning yak-fest) and WNEW-FM (album-oriented rock).

Changing hands

Emmis Broadcasting, owners of WQHT-FM (urban/contemporary hits), and the market's first duopoly when it purchased WRKS-FM (black/adult contemporary) in 1994, is in the process of acquiring WQCD-FM (easy jazz). And when Chancellor is rolled together with Evergreen Media, they will together own WAXQ-FM (classic rock), WHTZ-FM (contemporary hits), WKTU-FM (urban/contemporary hits) and WLTW (soft adult contemporary).

"I think New York is well down the road to consolidation," Fries argues. Fox, however, still is seeing a market in flux. "Until all the ownership deals are final, some of the stations are still laying in wait in terms of defining their marketing goals. It's just a matter of time." Nevertheless, this has not kept the Westinghouse/CBS group from showing planners like Fox what can be done, and she believes advertisers are noticing. "Westinghouse/CBS is taking an aggressive stance to get the results the company wants to see," she observes. "Clients are more aware of getting more for their dollar."
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Title Annotation:New York: Entertainment Town: Music/Radio; successful radio advertising industry New York
Author:Leventhal, Larry
Publication:Variety
Date:Sep 29, 1997
Words:600
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