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KPWR KICKS SAND IN BATTLE OF BEACHES

Oh what a lovely radio war.

Remember the big stink that KPWR-FM and other local radio stations made earlier this month when news surfaced that L.A.'s County Department of Beaches and Harbors has proposed awarding KIIS-FM a two-year “exclusive promotional” rights to local beaches in return for a $96,000 “donation” to the county?

Back then, KPWR (known as Power 106) cried foul, saying the beaches should be open to all radio station.

Now the dance-oriented rock station has changed its tune. With a County Board of Supervisors meeting scheduled for this week to hear new proposals from area stations, KPWR has submitted a “substantial” bid to gain a beach exclusive itself.

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KPWR General Manager Phil Newmark acknowledged that his station’s offer “may sound hypocritical,” but actually is designed to achieve a more open beach-promotion policy.

“Sure, we’d like to be the official station of the L.A. beaches,” said Newmark, who refused to specify how much money the station had bid. “There’s a great marketing advantage to having an exclusive. But we don’t feel it’s in the best interests of the community for any one station alone to have access.

“So if we get the exclusive, we’re going to open up the beaches to all other stations as well. As long as their events don’t conflict with ours, we’d approve any other proposal.”

Of course, there’s a little catch here. Newmark stressed that KPWR would most heartily approve station promotions that, like his own, would be a vehicle for community involvement or charitable causes. “It’s not a demand,” he said. “Let’s just say that we’d strongly encourage that the events involve the community. But even if it’s just a promotion tied-in with a soft-drink company, that would be OK.

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“We think having the exclusive would give us a certain clout so that if two stations came up with a proposal for an event on the same day, we could put pressure on them for additional involvement for charities or an event for underpriviledged kids.”

This sort of do-gooder proposal seems clearly designed to reap positive publicity for the station. In fact, KIIS-FM General Manager Lynn Anderson-Powell contends that the KPWR plan is merely a re-statement of county policy.

“We’re under the impression that the policy of allowing other stations access has already been included in the county’s new proposal. Any station that won an exclusive would have to agree to that,” she said. “If KIIS is awarded the exclusive to the county beaches, we’d be glad to let any other stations participate.”

And would KPWR make space available for arch-rival KIIS? After all, the two stations have been locked in a heated ratings battle, with the latest Arbitrend survey (which measured ratings over a three-month period ending in May) giving KPWR its first victory, edging KIIS with a 6.9 rating for KPWR vs. a 6.2 rating for KIIS.

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“Any station can have access,” he insisted. “If KIIS’ general manager wants to do an event on the beach, that doesn’t conflict with one of ours, all they have to do is pick up the phone and ask. It’s that simple.”


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