Revamp, New Weekly Sections, Now Set for Fall at L.A. Times

Media
by Claudia Peschiutta

The latest overhaul of the Los Angeles Times is taking a bit longer than expected.

Changes in the Calendar section and in the features department were planned for September but a Times spokeswoman last week said they're not coming until October.

"When you're working with prototypes and production issues, it's very complicated," Martha Goldstein said. "One month is not an extraordinary difference."

The paper plans to introduce new Thursday and Sunday Calendar sections, along with enhanced Health and Food sections (which are weekly), in October. The addition of three more themed weekly sections will come later, Goldstein said. The Southern California Living section will be dropped as part of the revamp.

Editor John Carroll announced the changes to staff members in May part of a long transformation of the paper that began after Tribune Co. acquired Times Mirror Co. The most notable change, so far, was the elimination of the paper's zoned Metro sections, which were replaced with a statewide news section titled California.

Observing 9/11

A commercial-free Sept. 11?

Managers of L.A. radio stations will be meeting this week to consider programming and advertising options to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

John Davison, president and general manager of ABC's L.A. radio stations, arranged the teleconference among members of the Southern California Broadcasters Association. He said he has a "long list of possibilities" to discuss but would not elaborate.

Asked if his proposals included a market-wide ban of radio ads, Davison was noncommittal. "That could be one of them," he said.

While most of the stations in town are owned by large media groups that ultimately will decide for themselves, local executives could have some say in the matter.

An Advertising Age survey finds that 51 percent of consumers don't want to see any ads that day. The TV networks plan to dedicate most of the day to news coverage.

Radio stations still have some time to decide what to do. Even if they opt against an ad ban, most will probably run fewer spots than usual. "It will definitely be a reduced commercial load if any," Davison said of the ABC stations.

Many ad agencies are saying they don't want to run spots on Sept. 11, said Pat Duffy, vice president and general manager of KRTH-FM (101.1).

KCRW Tops, Again

KCRW-FM (89.9) continues to rank No. 1 among L.A.'s public radio stations, according to the latest ratings.

The Santa Monica station posted a 1.6 rating in the spring period, which ran from March into June. That's a significant increase from the 1.3 KCRW reported from the like year-earlier period.

But station officials consider the numbers to be an anomaly. "We got lucky," said KCRW management consultant Will Lewis. "It's nothing that we did."

Lewis points out that one period doesn't say much about a station's performance because there can be major shifts within the group of listeners Arbitron Inc. uses to track ratings.

Classical KUSC-FM (91.5) came in with a 1.2, which is even with last spring. News and talk station KPCC-FM (89.3) was also even but with a 1.0. Jazz station KLON-FM (88.1) fell to a 0.8 rating, down from a 1.0 last spring.

In Honor of Hearn

The Los Angeles Press Club is postponing its annual All Media Bowl-A-Thon in light of the recent passing of Chick Hearn.

The legendary L.A. Lakers announcer had agreed to serve as master of ceremonies for the event, originally scheduled for August 14.

"Nobody had the heart to go forward," said Executive Director Alex Ben Block. "We just didn't think it was appropriate."

The bowl-a-thon, a fundraiser for the City of Hope, may be rescheduled for November or next spring, he said. A new award named after Hearn will be introduced at the event.

In Other News...

The Santa Monica office of Allison & Partners is staffing up thanks to the PR firm's recent acquisition of The Montgomery Group. The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, brings the San Francisco-based firm's total staff up to 30... KPCC-FM (89.3) is one of several public radio stations across the U.S. contributing to "Understanding America After 9/11." The collection of forums, stories, talk shows and call-in programs will be made available to all public radio stations from Sept. 3-10... Forbes magazine's local office has relocated to the Santa Monica Business Park on Ocean Park Boulevard... Get ready to dish the dirt. Santa Monica-based VoiceWeb Corp. has partnered with magazine publisher Primedia Inc. to create a telephone network for soap opera fans. Fan will get to chat with one another and find daily updates on shows and other services on The Soap Opera Digest network. It's expected to launch this fall.



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

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