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Fox News fine tunes into radio expansion

April 12, 2005
Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Having risen to the top of the cable television news pack, Fox News is now setting its sights on an expanded presence in radio.

Fox News Radio, which celebrated its second anniversary April 1, offers hourly news updates and breaking-news coverage to more than 300 stations nationwide, along with two weekday talk programs, "The Tony Snow Show" and "The Alan Colmes Show."

While Fox News gets a lot of ink with the success of its cable TV channel and recently with its plans to start a financial news channel that would take on CNBC, Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes said last week that radio and the Internet were among the company's growth priorities.

"I don't think there's a natural ceiling to what Fox News can do," Ailes said in an appearance Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington.

That's certainly true for Fox News Radio, which continues to grow under the radar in what is for some radio companies a tough business. Two years ago, the network started with one-minute newscasts every hour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays on 56 stations.

Now it's 24/7 and poised to grow even more than the 300 stations it has as affiliates now. An additional 100 stations owned by Clear Channel Radio are due to take news from Fox News this year. Fox News estimates the radio service reaches more than 10 million people a week.

"We're doing very well in a landscape where not everyone is doing well these days," said Kevin Magee, a Fox News Channel veteran who late last year was named senior vp Fox News Radio.

Radio hasn't been a challenge for Fox News, which seems to be positioned the best to take advantage of one of radio's most popular formats today -- talk.

Alan Colmes, whose talk show airs on Fox News Radio after "Hannity and Colmes" on cable TV (and just recently logged a New York affiliate), said the network offers Fox News Radio a lot of advantages.

"We're able to offer breaking news as it's happening because of the resources of the channel," Colmes said. "That adds a dimension that other channels don't have." When Pope John Paul II fell ill, "The Alan Colmes Show" was able to go live to Rome for updates. Fox News Radio also has offered coverage of the Ronald Reagan funeral, election night and President Bush's State of the Union address.

Fox News Radio also is building a state-of-the-art newsroom on the 15th floor of its Manhattan offices. Beginning June 1, Fox News Radio will offer both one-minute and five-minute newscasts to affiliates. And Magee said it's possible that other full-length radio programs will appear.