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Radio is redefining the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market with its successful specialty formatting.

In this South Florida market, the population is growing and ethnically diverse and results can be posted at a far lower cost than with TV, experts say.

Hispanics comprise 34.9% of Miami-Fort Lauderdale's population; African Americans about 16.1 and whites about 49%. Retail sales are $30 billion for 1993 and the average household income is $29,286, according to Duncan's Radio Market Guide.

"People are able to target their market at will," said Bob Labeskis, president of Spots Inc., a Fort Lauderdale radio advertising production company. "You can pinpoint them."

The ability to target an audience has been a growing phenomenon, much of it stemming from the area's diverse Hispanic base, says B. Eric Rhoads, publisher of Radio Ink.Essentially, the regional community is a "market within a market," allowing advertisers to target Nicaraguans or Cubans, for example.

"A few smart broadcasters came in and narrowed the target to Cubans within the Hispanic market," he notes. "As a result, if you narrow your format, you don't have as much competition in that market."

Hispanic stations fare well in this market. Three of the top 10 stations are Spanish language-No. 1 being urban station WEDR-FM.

The growing Hispanic market motivated Russ Oasis, president of New Age Broadcasting, to buy WXDJ in 1987 and convert it to a Spanish-language format in 1990. In August he converted another English-language station, WTPX, to Spanish-language as well. The stations will operate under a local marketing arrangement until the Federal Communications Commission approves his July purchase of WTPX. At that point, they will operate as a duopoly.

The increasing implementation of the local marketing arrangements are fueling radio's resurgence here. Since the first such leasing agreement was completed in South Florida in January 1992, more than half of the 54 stations operating in Miami-Fort Lauderdale have local marketing arrangements, says David Ross, president and general manager of SuperCombo Radio Network, which operates WHYI-FM and WAXY-FM under a LMA program.

By consolidating sales and management, more diversified formats result for listeners and advertisers alike, says Mr. Ross.

Sales revenues in the market are projected at $130 million in 1994, up 8% from1993 and a 5% increase so far this year.

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