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Clear Channel Chicago forms African-American network with stations group

By Phil Rosenthal
Chicago Tribune
(November 4, 2009) In a bid to take advantage of the fact that three of its Chicago radio stations are estimated to reach more than 1.2 million African Americans weekly, Clear Channel Radio Chicago is unifying WGCI-FM 107.5, WVAZ-FM 102.7 and WGRB-AM 1390 under a single advertising banner.

Formation of the Clear Channel Chicago Urban Network marks a significant change for the media conglomerate in that it previously grouped its stations primarily on the basis of the age of the audience they targeted.

The Urban Network looks to offer marketers a single cross-platform opportunity to reach Chicago's African-American audience through radio, digital and event marketing even as programming on WGCI, V103 and Inspiration 1390 continue to target different parts of that group.

Overseeing programming for the trio of stations will be Derrick Brown, who has been WVAZ's program director and social media director for Clear Channel's WVAZ, WGRB and WLIT-FM 93.9. V103 personality Kris Kelley, who has doubled as WGCI's program director will assume assistant program director duties under Brown.

"Listners won't notice anything different. It will be seamless," Earl Jones, Clear Channel Radio Chicago's president and market manager. "They're going to hear the same programs on the air."

Jones said the genesis of the sales shift came when he saw Scarborough research that showed that WGCI, V103 and WGRB reached more than 1.2 million unduplicated African Americans locally, and more than 950,000 of them were age 18 or older, making them a particularly attractive group for advertisers.

"For African Americans (age 18 and older) we beat ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC in this market," Jones said. "If you want to reach an African American ... you cannot overlook this capacity here that we have."

Previously, Clear Channel Radio Chicago had WGCI, WKSC-FM 103.5 and Spanish-language WNUA-FM 95.5 grouped together based on their penetration in the age 18-34 and 18-49 demographics, while WVAZ, WGRB and WLIT-FM 93.9 were sold as a way to reach listeners age 25 to 54.

Darlene Park will be the Urban Network's general sales manager and Carla Ross its local sales manager. Both have served in similar capacities for V103, WGRB and Lite FM.

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