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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2002

Clear Channel subscription plan a hoax

After promoting for more than a week a planned “broadcast subscription service” for WVKS-FM in Toledo, Clear Channel radio said yesterday that its promotion was an April Fool's hoax.

Clear Channel regional manager Andy Stuart informed listeners of the pay-for-programming plan in on-air promotions that aired multiple times last week and on the station's web site.

Stuart said that Clear Channel was using its WVKS morning show to test a new subscription-based plan and would be using technology developed by XM Satellite Radio, of which Clear Channel owns 7.3 percent.

In carrying out the hoax, WVKS had two hours of “dead air” yesterday, starting about 6 a.m., with advertising, but virtually no local programming, explaining that the station was testing the “broadcast subscription service.”

Blade staff writer Russ Lemmon wrote about the “broadcast subscription service” in his media column yesterday, attributing the information to Stuart's on-air comments and the station's web site. Clear Channel officials in Toledo, Cincinnati, and San Antonio refused interview requests.

Stuart e-mailed back, “I will have a comment after we have completed the installation of the technology. Until then, I will need to rely on my standard `no comment' response.”

John Potter, market manager for Cumulus radio stations in Toledo and former vice president of sales for Clear Channel Interactive, said yesterday that the technology exists for radio to offer a broadcast pay-for-programming service at the local level.

“Yes, you certainly could do it,” he said.

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