Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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Starting Thursday morning, Clear Channel Radio Chicago's WGRB-AM (1390) is introducing a more contemporary gospel sound that will emphasize what Clear Channel Radio Chicago's director of urban programming Derrick Brown calls the "new, hotter gospel artists." They include performers such as Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams. WGRB has been a gospel-formatted station for the past 10 years.

WGRB also is introducing a new tag line -- "Music of Power and Praise" -- that acknowledges and underscores the shift in focus in the station's sound. Brown said that the old gospel format was about 50 percent classic gospel music and 50 percent contemporary. "The new sound will be 80 or 90 percent contemporary," said Brown. WGRB's on-air talent line-up will not change with the introduction of the new gospel mix, with "The John Hannah Morning Show" remaining in morning drive and "The Joy Ride Home" with Sonya Blakey in afternoon drive.

Brown also said the updated gospel music format should help the station pull in more listeners. In the most recent December Arbitron radio ratings book, WGRB was tied for 33rd place in the rankings overall among adults 25 to 54.

Clear Channel Radio Chicago has formed what it calling a "one-stop shop" for advertisers to capitalize on the buying and listening power of the African-American consumer. Effective Nov. 6, the Clear Channel Chicago Urban Network will coordinate ad sales on three Clear Channel outlets -- WGCI-FM (107.5); WVAZ-FM (102.7) and WGRB-AM (1390). "Each station targets and influences a different segment of the population," said Earl Jones, president and market manager of Clear Channel Radio Chicago. Together, the three stations reach more than 1.2 million African-Americans weekly.

Advertisers who purchase the Clear Channel Chicago Urban Network will receive a cross-platform of marketing opportunities, including radio, digital and events. "Clear Channel is more than radio -- we are a media and entertainment company," explained Jones. Darlene Park will be general sales manager for the Urban Network, and Derrick Brown will assume the role of director of urban programming for the three urban properties.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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