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San Francisco advertisers and agencies realize the benefit of a solid radio promotion.

Hal Riney & Partners and other San Francisco-area agencies have begun working with broadcast promotion consultants who handle the complicated, but marketing world-wise logistics of radio promotions.

For example, General Motors Corp.'s Saturn has initiated a radio promotion where a listener wins the opportunity to go to Tennessee to help build the car that is the promotion's prize.

Also, area broadcasters formed an association that pitches radio to clients.

There are 75 stations in the nine-county San Francisco region. According to the Northern California Broadcasters Assn. the San Francisco region has one of the highest number of stations per person.

"There are now some 30 different [program] formats," each drawing very specific, targeted audiences, says David Verklin, media director and general manager at Riney.

In addition, the city has become a test site for emerging formats, most recently a new station which plays only '70s music.

The multiplicity of stations has helped sell advertisers on targeted buys for the area's residents, many of whom have a high income-but all of whom, like so many Californians, spend a good chunk of their days listening to the car radio while they negotiate the drive to and from their jobs.

"Because our potential customers are stuck in traffic, it motivated us to go to radio," says Henry Hansel, president of Hansel Ford in Santa Rosa, who led the area Ford dealers away from a TV-only campaign over the past five years.

"Radio has provided the most successful targeted campaign we ever ran," he says, adding the association now has devoted 20%, or $3.5 million, to Bay Area radio.

"We can buy radio and know we are not overbuying," he adds.

The accounting firm of Miller Kaplan Arase & Co. estimates Bay Area radio station revenues for the first six months of the year are up 7.4% from the comparable '93 period, hitting $103 million. If that pace continues, radio could have a record, $200 million year.

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