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The KidStar radio network is melding education, entertainment, marketing and multimedia to build a path to the elusive 3-to-12-year old market.

The KidStar integrated media network consists of radio, magazine, phone and computer links. The concept debuted 15 months ago on a single Seattle radio station, said Bill Koenig, president of Children's Media Network, and CMN is planning to roll it out to 10 markets nationally by April 1995.

"We have been broadcasting 18 hours a day, seven days a week. But when we go national, it will be 24 hours a day."

CMN has sponsorship packages ranging from $150,000 to $1 million that include page ads in the magazine, radio spots, features that are 2 to 3 minutes long, direct mail and promotional events.

"We are putting together a complete package that [will] include sponsorship of a feature we already have developed or we will create an appropriate feature [for interested advertisers]," Mr. Koenig said.

CMN will create partnerships with existing AM radio broadcasters with a novel approach. Rather than a typical affiliate model, it will provide broadcasters a turnkey package, plus participation in the entire revenue stream.

CMN expects to reach a market of 12 million children when it adds stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, Dallas, Boston and Houston.

Founding sponsors are McDonald's, Nordstrom, Microsoft and Washington Mutual Savings Bank. More than 160 advertisers have bought time on the Seattle station, including Domino's Pizza, Westin Hotels and Resorts, Nestle, WordPerfect Corporation and Mervyn's Department Stores.

KidStar Magazine is CMN's initial marketing tool. It is published quarterly and distributed through schools and other kid-centered organizations. The company also mails directly to youngsters.

Radio programming features kid announcers who broadcast news, music, humor, features and long-form stories.

PhoneZone is the telephone link where listeners leave messages and comments. KidStar On-line links kids and KidStar personalities through the Internet.

Children's Media Network has found far more demand for the wee hours than expected and responded by extending Seattle broadcasts to midnight, though it cuts off phone lines at 11 p.m. Phones open at 6 a.m.

"We have learned kids will always listen up but don't want to listen down. The key is to target to older kids," Mr. Koenig said.

The company doesn't expect to see the same controversy that built around Whittle Communications Channel One. "We elected to support kids and parents in the home and thereby provide one of the greatest benefits we could provide to the schools-students with high self-esteem. We were the first commercial station to get PTA support," Mr. Koenig said.

CMS has added programming specifically targeted to schools, with kids and experts talking about such subjects as energy, videogames, food and nutrition.

There have been several other efforts to provide kids radio programming. The best known, Radio AAHS in Minneapolis, is syndicated at several places in the U.S., including some of the same markets CMN is approaching.

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