And there are worries that it will shake up the growing Spanish-language radio market by the time the transition is complete.
But there’s some good news for Cleare Channel, and it has nothing to do with saving money on
The good news is that the licensing decision opens the way for Clear Channel to buy the station outright.
It could take anywhere from two months to three years for the FCC to process and aprove the application to build a transmitter in Clemmons.
At this point, the station’s format is country music, but it’s unclear whether or not it will stay that way.
Executives are being tight-lipped about any possible format change.
Cheryl Salamone, the general manager for Clear Channel’s four existing
Triad stations, declined to say whether the company would change
format, and if so what that change might look like. She didn’t want to
off competitors, she said, and the company can’t make a final decision
until it knows when the station might be operating in Clemmons.
There’s already lots of speculation from local broadcasters and industry insiders as to what audience Clear Channel will go after.
All bets are on the station becoming a Spanish-language one, based on Cleare Channel’s current national strategy.
“I would think they would go for something maybe as diverse as a
station,” said Greg Fischer, owner of 3PM Marketing, formerly Fischer
Group, a Greensboro advertising agency.
Bruce Wheeler, the top local executive for Dick Broadcasting, which
two stations in the Triad, agreed that it would be logical to change
format from country to a Spanish language format. Wheeler’s company
opposed the application to move the license to Clemmons, though
the FCC decided in favor of the move and against Dick Broadcasting.
Clear Channel already owns WTQR-FM 104.1, a country station and the
overall market leader. Clear Channel also used to operate another
station here, which broadcast on FM 94.5, but in February 2003 it
that station’s country twang for urban beats when it became
In September 2004, Clear Channel announced it would convert more than
two-dozen radio stations around the country to Spanish-language
and in some markets those stations have topped the Arbitron rankings.
As the country’s Hispanic population grows and marketers focus more
attention on reaching those consumers, Spanish-language media has
one of the fastest-growing categories of ad spending nationally.
And this is the most brilliant quote in the whole piece:
“Right now I don’t see a lot of local advertising dollars that are
dedicated to targeting Hispanics, but nationally there are a lot of
national products,” Fischer said.
Jose Isasi, a Winston-Salem businessman who has been building a media
company that caters to Hispanics, is watching Clear Channel’s
“We believe that sooner or later there will be an FM (Spanish-language
station) here,” said Isasi, owner of Latino Communications Inc., which
publishes the Que Pasa newspapers and owns radio stations in the
Triangle and Charlotte areas.
Isasi is worried about the threat a big FM station like that would pose.
Along with owning and publishing the Que Pasa newspaper, his Latino Communications has three AM stations in the triad area, and is scheduled to buy a fourth by 1 March.
He owned just one station two and a half years ago, and has been carrying out a strategy he developed in the Triangle, after being threatened by the presence of an FM Spanish-language stations owned by Curtis Media Group.
Isasi sold the 50,000-watt AM station he had been broadcasting on in
Triangle, and then bought three smaller AM stations there. He hopes to
a fourth, in Durham, too.
By buying several smaller, cheaper AM stations, Isasi says he can sell
for less — $20 to $25 per spot instead of $100 or more per spot for a
FM station — than his competitors. That gives him access to
who can’t afford to buy time on a more expensive station.
Isasi can also get twice the use out of his resources, doubling his newspaper reporters as radio reporters.
This means he can provide original local news content most other stations find too expensive to produce.
Isasi wants to make sure he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes he made in Raleigh.
In his own words: “We
caught with our pants down in Raleigh; let’s be sure we don’t get
with our pants down in Greensboro/Winston-Salem.”