InterQuantum, a new unit at the marketing conglomerate Inter/Media Group of Cos. in Encino, in some ways resembles Mike TeeVee, the boy from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."


Fans will recall that TeeVee watched a candy bar make the jump from television screen to the real world, and then tried to follow suit by becoming the first person to tele-port himself. Likewise, InterQuantum functions as an agency to help clients make the jump from direct response TV ads to establishing a shelf presence in retail stores. Headed by Anthony and Lauren Raissen, the entrepreneurs who made the jump with their BreathAsure natural breath freshener, the agency helps in everything from choosing a price point to ensuring sell-through at the stores.


"I tell clients that before you jump in the river, you have to make sure you can get all the way across," says Anthony Raissen. "We help them take a step back and determine if they have the ability to make the leap before they venture out and lose a lot of money."


InterQuantum comes as an outgrowth of Inter/Media's core business as an ad agency on infomercial and direct TV accounts. The company has total annual billings of $350 million.


The new unit will help research the market and design packaging. The agency even gets involved in the manufacturing process and supply chain to help clients reduce costs so their products can sell a competitive price point for retail.


On the back end, the agency develops an advertising campaign to drive customers to stores, helps arrange meetings and negotiations with retail chains, and then collaborates with retailers to create in-store advertising and co-op programs to drive sales.


"Each chain has a dizzying amount of different requirements," said Raissen. "Marketers trying to do this on their own can lose patience, give up or make catastrophic decisions. InterQuantum knows the shortcuts and the solutions, and we also use our relationships with the retailers to get the best deal."


While TeeVee ended up shrinking because of the TV-reality shift, InterQuantum is in growth mode. Clients include AlCis, a maker of pain relief cream; energizing vitamins Vitalert; Diet Classics weight-loss pills; and the fastener division of Pasadena-based Avery Dennison.


On the retail side, its network of stores includes Wal-Mart, Walgreens, RiteAid, CVS, Costco, GNC, Kroger (owner of Ralph's) and Safeway (owner of Von's).


Classical Dilemma

The format shift at KKGO-FM, formerly KMZT-FM (105.1) has left Los Angeles without a commercial classical FM station, but the non-commercial side has picked up the slack.


KUSC-FM (91.5), the largest non-profit classical music station in the country, is run by USC. To beef up its classical credentials, the station has hired a former KMZT announcer and recruited another from WGMS-FM (104.1) in Washington, D.C., another commercial station that recently stopped playing orchestra music.


Rich Capparela, former host for KMZT's weekday morning show, will take over KUSC's afternoon show starting March 26. Dennis Bartel, the former morning drive host of WGMS, will assume similar duties on the KUSC's morning show. While Capparela's job move comes as a direct result of the KMZT demise, Bartel's contract was signed a month before KMZT changed formats, according to KUSC President Brenda Barnes.


Both announcers "are KUSC alums, so it is especially wonderful to welcome them back into the family," said Barnes. "We also hope that this reassures the classical music audience that KUSC is not only stable but growing."


The twin hires reflect the dwindling viability of ad-supported classical stations, which remain a comfortable niche for listener- and grant-supported outlets.


Here in Los Angeles, lagging ad sales caused the former KMZT to change its call letters to KKGO and adopt a country music format. In the nation's capital, similar economics forced WGMS to switch from classical to '80s music.


Print Points

Hachette Filipacchi will shut down the U.S. print edition of Premiere magazine after the April issue. The movie monthly will continue to ship to six European countries and maintain its Web site, but 25 staffers will lose their jobs. The magazine has offices in New York and Los Angeles. Two top editors of the Hollywood Reporter have resigned to join competitor Variety. Editor Cynthia Littleton and Deputy Film Editor Anne Thompson will take on the titles of deputy editor for news development and deputy editor at Variety.com, respectively. Since Primedia Inc. announced it would sell off its Enthusiast publications in February, the company's stock price has jumped nearly 50 percent. It currently trades in the $2.50 range. The Enthusiast division includes the L.A-based automotive titles that formerly belonged to Petersen Publishing Co., including flagships Motor Trend and Hot Rod. Primedia reported revenue of $849 million in 2006; the Enthusiast segment accounted for about $500 million. The company plans to concentrate on its remaining titles, mostly freebie pubs such as apartment and car buying guides.


Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at jrussell@labusinessjournal.com , or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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