The Playgoer: Theatre Marketing post-WQXR

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Theatre Marketing post-WQXR

Continuing to shed whatever poundage they can, NY Times is selling off their official radio station, WQXR, which they've run for six decades.

WQXR has been known mostly to New Yorkers as the city's last remaining all-classical music station. (Yes, even NYC only has one now.) Under its new management by the quasi-NPR (now just "listener-supported") WNYC, the station will reportedly keep the format.

But, as a "public radio" station, will it continue to be the haven for Broadway and Off Broadway advertising it always was? WQXR was the ideal "niche demographic" venue for those ad companies sorry enough to be stuck with "legit" accounts in the 21st century. It guaranteed an audience of folks just out of touch enough with the mainstream commercial culture--and with, on average, just enough disposable income--to actually go to plays.

And they sure milked it. As a regular listener, I counted at least two campaigns regularly running each week. (Usually in really, really annoying spots aimed either at the retirement-age or bridge & tunnel crowds. I don't know who produces them, but they usually feature two voices: one older man who delivers the hard sell, then an older woman supplying the emotional appeal of the play's storyline.)

Even WNYC promotes sponsors--discreet plugs by announcers, like PBS has--so it's not the end of the line. But imagine anyone who specializes in radio theatre ads in this town is making and receiving a lot of calls today...

(The official NYT story is here. Note the complex terms of the sale, whereby Univision actually buys most of the station in order to take over its prized 96.3 spot on the dial, moving QXR up into the FM stratosphere, to a new call-number that WNYC will administer.)

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