Variety Spices Up Weekly in Bid to Boost Subscriptions

by Claudia Peschiutta

Variety has revamped its weekly edition in the hopes of making it more attractive to local readers of its daily trade publication. Much of the material in Weekly Variety that had been recycled from the daily paper is being replaced with new columns and analytical articles, said Publisher Charles Koones. Free copies of the paper recently began going out to L.A. readers on Sundays, instead of Mondays. "We have a very interesting marketing challenge with the Weekly," Koones said. "Readers of Daily Variety feel, 'I've got everything I need out of the daily. I don't need the weekly.'" Daily and Weekly Variety each have a circulation of about 36,000 but the former is more popular with local readers. Only 20 percent of the weekly paper's circulation comes from L.A., while the rest generally is made up by readers in New York and overseas, Koones said. Koones said five writers and editors were added to the Weekly's staff. About 10,000 local readers of Daily Variety will be offered a free three-month trial subscription to the weekly paper by the end of the month, he added. Also, Editor-In-Chief Peter Bart's column, which appears in both papers, was moved from Mondays to Tuesdays in the daily edition. "It's a significant investment but it's manageable," Koones said. "I think we're going to see a significant return." Times Fares Better While Tribune Co. reported that January advertising revenues in its publishing division were down 12 percent year-over-year, the Los Angeles Times suffered less than other newspapers in the group. The Times' advertising volume fell only 6 percent during the five-week period ended Feb. 3, compared with the 19 percent dive seen at the Chicago Tribune.

Long Island's Newsday saw advertising volume increase by 1 percent, while Tribune's remaining daily papers had a combined decline of 7 percent. Times and Tribune officials did not return calls for comment.

Pacifica Unites

Local Pacifica Radio station KPFK-FM (90.7) got a little help from its friends last week in an effort to complete the long overdue installation of transmission and studio equipment.

The four other Pacifica stations agreed to join KPFK in a fund drive on Feb. 28 in an effort to raise the $350,000 needed to get the station's two new transmitters up and running. KPFK has been broadcasting at less than one-third of its capacity for months due to financial problems within the Pacifica Foundation, which manages the five stations.

"Every, single penny" raised by the drive would be used on the station's transmitters and studios, said Steven Starr, interim general manager of KPFK. The station must boost its transmission power by April 25 under a temporary authorization granted by the Federal Communications Commission.

"We will make the deadline," Starr vowed.

Hahn & Howser

Most people know him as the mayor of Los Angeles but James Hahn has added another title to his resume executive producer.

Hahn was given the mostly honorary title for helping create "Our Neighborhoods with Huell Howser," a monthly series about L.A. neighborhoods that premiered on KCET last week. The 30-minute show, hosted by "California Gold's" Howser, is a city-funded effort that also airs on L.A. City View Channel 35.

Even Howser was surprised to hear Hahn was being touted as executive producer of the show, which he produces and hosts. "I haven't even looked at the credits," he explained.

The first episode featured Atwater Village. The next one will spotlight the Ethiopian section of Fairfax Avenue. Suggestions for other shows will be accepted from viewers.

In Other News...

La Agencia de Orci won a second-place mention in this year's international Mobius Advertising Awards contest. The L.A.-based ad agency was honored for a 30-second spot, titled "Peer Pressure," that was designed for Verizon Communications Inc.... Former oldies DJ Jay Coffey was named program director of KRTH-FM (101.1). The 17-year station veteran replaced Mike Phillips, who retired in February. "He's earned the job," said Pat Duffy, vice president and general manager of KRTH. "He understands the music. He's been on the air. He's played it."

Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229 or at

KCET's "Family" Starts Slowly

The much-hyped drama "American Family" got off to a rocky start but executives at KCET-TV (Channel 28) say the series has been well-received by viewers and that the public television station was negotiating last week for nine more episodes.

While details were still being worked out, KCET Production Director Joyce Campbell said it was likely the show would continue beyond its 13-episode run, which ends in May. The hour-long show about a family living in East L.A. is being co-produced by the station and series creator Gregory Nava.

Critics called the Jan. 23 premiere (the pilot Nava originally created for CBS) "overwrought and underwritten" and "about as subtle as an episode of NBC's 'Providence.'" But critics response improved for the second episode, which one reviewer said "runs more smoothly."

The show is one of a handful of major productions under way at KCET, whose national programming offerings have long lagged behind those of public television stations in Boston and New York.

Claudia Peschiutta

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