RADIO ON DEMAND TOUTED AT NAB

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LOS ANGELES-National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show attendees last week got a glimpse of both the long-awaited SW Networks and a new technology that could provide an on-ramp to the information superhighway for radio.

Until now, New York-based SW Networks, the new radio network from Sony Software and Warner Music Group, had said little about its plans. Despite rumors it will carry only musicians from the Warner or Sony labels, an official said SW Networks will embark in January with new adult contemporary as its first 24-hour satellite format.

"People have said we'll just be a marketing arm of those companies but it's not true," said Corinne Baldassano, VP-programming for SW Networks. "Sony and Warner have given us the mandate to create a business. We're not committed to just showcasing their artists."

She would not say how many affiliates or advertisers have signed.

During the first quarter of 1995, the network also will introduce two other full-time formats. It will team up with British-based Classic FM to produce a 24-hour classical network, and on its own will devise a motivational format called Success Radio.

Two-hour shows spanning more mainstream formats, including hard rock, alternative rock, country and hip hop, also will be syndicated.

Radio may have taken a step toward reaching the information superhighway with a summer test of radio on demand by Microsoft Corp. in Seattle.

Gregory Riker, director of advanced consumer technology at Microsoft, told convention attendees the test provided 24 homes with specially adapted minidisc players that store news and music from the radio.

The minidisc, set up to receive analog and digital radio signals, was programmed with a profile of things the listener wanted saved.

Through the new digital broadcast standard, Radio Broadcast Data System, the software monitored the broadcast of a participating station by reading the digitized labels of songs, news and traffic reports.

"It combines the personal aspects of computing with the amazing amount of information the radio sends out every day," Mr. Riker said.

Separately, the Radio Advertising Bureau projected U.S. radio ad revenue this year will hit $10.8 billion, up 16% from last year. President-CEO Gary Fries cited marketers' desire for more play for dollars spent and an industrywide self-promotion effort as major reasons for the increase.

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