New NPR Base Bubbles Up on Westside

Media
by Claudia Peschiutta

National Public Radio took a big step forward last week toward opening a West Coast production facility.

The Washington, D.C.-based network purchased a 1.8-acre property in Culver City with two buildings, at 9905 and 9909 Jefferson Blvd., from the Welk Group Inc., the holding company for the interests of legendary bandleader Lawrence Welk.

NPR plans to move its L.A. news bureau and the production staff of "The Tavis Smiley Show" into the lot's 25,000-square-foot building by September. That facility is expected to eventually employ 90 people.

In size, L.A.'s facility will be second only to NPR's headquarters. It will serve as a back-up facility for the network in case of emergencies.

The facility also will play an important role in NPR's cultural coverage. To the chagrin of some in the public radio world, the network recently announced plans to focus more attention on popular culture as part of a restructuring plan that will result in 35 layoffs. Some reporters in the 16-member arts unit will be based in L.A.

NPR has raised $6 million toward the estimated $12 million cost of the project. A smaller building on the Culver City property is occupied by a commercial company with five years remaining on its lease.

Wave to Wilshire

Wave Community Newspapers Inc. has moved most of its operations out of its longtime Crenshaw base.

The Wave, which owns several weekly newspapers serving South and East L.A., moved to the Wilshire Boulevard headquarters of the Independent Newspaper Group Inc. (The Independent papers were purchased last year by the Wave's majority investor, Equal Access Media Inc.)

"We bought the Independent with the idea of, at some point, consolidating," said Pluria Marshall Jr., publisher of the Wave and Independent newspapers. He noted that combining the sales and accounting departments of both newspaper groups could generate about $150,000 in savings annually. Operations were consolidated at the Wilshire location because the Independent has a two-year lease that would have cost $250,000 to break, he said.

The Wave's distribution and warehousing services will remain at 2621 W. 54th Street. The vacated space, about 20,000 square feet, likely will be leased out. The move will not lead to any layoffs, Marshall said.

KSPN Grabs Galaxy

Baseball, basketball, football and hockey aren't the only sports to be found on L.A. radio.

The L.A. Galaxy has signed a one-season deal with ESPN Radio Network to broadcast 25 games on KSPN-AM (1110), one of ABC's four local radio stations. Aligning itself with the local soccer team could strengthen the sports station's position in the market. KSPN faces tough competition from KXTA, home to the Dodgers, Clippers and Lakers.

"We would like to (extend the deal)," said Bob Koontz, director of sales for KSPN and the other ABC stations in L.A. "We'll just wait and see how the ratings go."

KSPN's relationship with the team will also help decide whether Galaxy games remain on KSPN, Koontz said. The four local ABC radio stations will be promoted at Galaxy games.

The Galaxy recently signed another broadcast deal, this one with KCAL-TV (Channel 9). The station will broadcast 10 games per season starting in 2003.

'The Coach' Comes To Fox

Fox World wants to bring a French television hit to an international audience.

The international production unit of L.A.-based Fox Television Studios reached an agreement with Quai Sud, a production company owned by TF1 of France, to produce and distribute the format of "The Coach," a show in which real people are coached on ways to overcome individual challenges. That could range from tips on asking someone out to beating a friend at tennis.

Despite the use of hidden cameras, Daniela Welteke, senior vice president of Fox World, said "The Coach" is not a reality show. Fox World is pitching the format in other countries this month and will start trying to sell it in the U.S. in May, she said.

In Other News

L.A. marketing firm Cimarron Group launched a broadcast division with Geoff Calnan at the helm. The former executive vice president of UPN, Calnan will be responsible for client development and project production KABC-AM (790) was one of 10 radio stations nationwide to be recognized for its community service with a Crystal Radio Award from the National Association of Broadcasters A 57-hour radiothon hosted by KSCA-FM (101.9) morning host Renan Almendarez Coello, better known as "El Cucuy," last month raised $1.75 million for Padres Contra El Cancer, a support group that targets Latino families affected by childhood cancer.



Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229, or at cpeschiutta@labusinessjournal.com.

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