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It's a simple idea, but Westwood One Radio Networks may revolutionize radio with a reconfiguration of its networks that gives advertisers more precisely targeted national buys.

Westwood is reshaping itself into five distinct syndicated formats-Westwood CNN+ (news), Westwood AC (adult contemporary), Westwood Country, Westwood Young Adult (ages 18 to 49) and Westwood Variety (multiformat). The move follows Westwood's purchase of the network radio business of Infinity Broadcasting Corp. last October and a test of the new targeting concept last summer. Under the reconfiguration, the formats are closely aligned with advertiser categories.

Starting in September, national advertisers can fine-tune their target audiences by choosing the Westwood formats consumers of specific products listen to, instead of merely targeting by demographics.

As a result, clients no longer have to buy a myriad of station formats to reach a single demographic group.

In the past, marketers would have had to buy from two or more of Westwood's multiformat networks to reach a desired audience by age and sex.

With the new formatted networks, advertisers can match their market reach to the networks' profiles of their listeners, adding another dimension to better target their market.

"It makes what we currently do easier," said Jim Lawenda, director of media purchasing for Schering-Plough Corp. "We find radio to be valuable but [until now it was] difficult to explain to our brand manager who the message is going to."

"We have grouped [our networks] by format, which in turn groups them by age as well," said Westwood Radio Division President Bill Hogan.

Schering would advertise Coppertone Sport suntan lotion or Tinactin athlete's foot remedy on the Westwood Young Adult network based on the age of that target market and its programming choices, Mr. Lawenda explained.

But the company would advertise Drixoral and Coricidin cold products, marketed to older consumers, on its CNN+ network.

In addition to enhancing client marketing and media efforts, radio advertisers envision more focused creative as a result of Westwood's overhaul.

Agencies can also more finely target the creative product, said Roby Wiener, media manager for Warner-Lambert Co. "It will help me get more monies to put behind radio."

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