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Calabasas Promoter Named in Spitzer’s Investigation of Payola

Michele Clark prides herself on getting radio exposure for both obscure and established artists. But now Clark is receiving some unwanted exposure herself because of promotional efforts for artists such as Robert Cray, the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer.


New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s 11-month, multi-state investigation of “payola” in the radio industry essentially bribing station personnel to play records fingered Clark’s Calabasas company, Michele Clark Promotion, as a possible agent for illegal payments to an upstate New York radio station. Spit-zer’s tentacles also reached across doz-ens of radio stations nationwide, including L.A.’s KIIS-FM (102.7).


Documents released by Spitzer’s office show that Clark’s company paid WDST-FM (100.1), which calls itself “Radio Woodstock,” $4,000 over the course of a month on behalf of Sony BMG. As part of a $10 million settlement with Spitzer’s office, the record company admitted that some of its employees had illegally offered money and other giveaways in exchange for radio stations playing the label’s artists.


Neither Michele Clark nor WDST officials returned calls for comment. Spitzer’s office is looking at other record labels that may have been involved in illegal payoffs but is not pursuing investigation or prosecution of Michele Clark Promotions, according to a spokesman.


KIIS-FM, L.A.’s top-rated radio station in Arbitron ratings, also was mentioned in documents released by Spitzer’s office. The station was among 45 nationwide that an executive of Sony’s Epic Records Group monitored for playing singer Celine Dion’s “I Drove All Night” in January 2003 in exchange for trips to Las Vegas to hear Dion perform.


The Epic Records executive determined that KIIS-FM had played the song enough to warrant the trip to Las Vegas, though it’s unclear from the documents whether anyone at the station actually took the trip.


Greg Ashlock, the Clear Channel Communications Inc. executive in charge of KIIS-FM, said he knows of no wrongdoing at the station.



Hollywood, AZ


Moving Pictures Magazine wants to view the pop-cultural sensibilities of Hollywood through the highbrow, literary prisms of New York and London.


But when the owners of the magazine were deciding where to put their headquarters in the United States after moving from the U.K. capital, they picked an unlikely venue: Phoenix.


“The infrastructure costs are much lower than in L.A. everything from the real estate for the offices to the cost of living for employees,” said Margaret Tritch, publisher of the independently owned magazine. “Nowadays in the Internet age you can have the headquarters office almost anywhere.”


Moving Pictures Magazine published its first issue in May 2004 and aims to be to cinema what Cigar Aficionado is to smoking and Wine Spectator is to drinking. The semimonthly prints about 30,000 copies in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London and Phoenix.


The publication maintains a group of freelance writers in Los Angeles and has an editorial bureau in the offices of the American Film Institute in Hollywood. The magazine is hiring an editor in chief, and Tritch said the person could be based either in Phoenix or L.A. The magazine currently has about 25 employees, with most employed at the Phoenix headquarters in page design, circulation and advertising.



Horse Cents


Nancy Cole is a writer. Not a rider.


But since trading microphones and broadcast booths for the niche of equine publishing in early 2003, Cole has learned her way around the stable. She is publisher and chief writer of the Equestrian News, a semimonthly regional newspaper that she says has a circulation of 30,000.


The Studio City resident, whose last broadcasting job was general manager of KMPC-AM (1540), said there are 700,000 horses in the region wigh significant economic impact, much of it from racing and showing.


For the July/August 2005 issue, Equestrian News is galloping into Orange County for the first time. But there are no plans to grow beyond metro L.A. There already are equestrian publications with a national focus, said Cole, who edits the newspaper from a home office and writes most of the articles herself. “It’s been a nice ride, really,” she said.



PR News


Declaring that “our New York attitude will bring a breath of fresh air to the West Coast market,” Ronn Torossian, president of 5W Public Relations, announced plans to open an L.A. practice in August. Clients range from the Christian-oriented Trinity Broadcasting Network to rapper Lil’ Kim. The first satellite office is scheduled to open Aug. 1 in Santa Monica with five employees and serve clients in the corporate, consumer, technology and entertainment area.



*Staff reporter James Nash can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230, or by e-mail at

jnash@labusinessjournal.com

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