Monday, May 25, 2009

From smooth jazz to heavy Hispanic sounds

WNUA signs off jazz for Hispanic format
BY LEWIS LAZARE, SunTimes, May 23, 2009

As first tipped here months ago, Clear Channel Radio has finally switched formats at beleaguered smooth jazz WNUA-FM (95.5).

On Friday, after jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis finished his 9 a.m. show, the station introduced a Spanish format that Clear Channel management characterized as Spanish hot adult contemporary.

For promotional purposes, the station now will be referred to as "Mega 95.5," but no new call letters have been announced. The new playlist will range from Juanes and Mana to Enrique Iglesias and Paulina Rubio.

After axing scores of staff in recent months at WNUA and the five other radio properties it operates in the Chicago market, Clear Channel also now plans to add nearly 30 new bilingual staffers and on-air talent to operate Mega 95.5.

Clear Channel's hand was forced at WNUA by the rapid decline in ad revenue at the station in recent months. In April, WNUA pulled in barely a third of the ad revenue it was generating a year ago.

Management apparently believes it can generate more ad dollars by going to a Spanish-language market. The latest census figures indicated Hispanics comprise 15.2 percent of Illinois' population.

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