Charity may begin at home, but for KLOS-FM (95.5) it ends up at the bank.
Indeed, Saturday's Live Aid broadcast might well have been the radio programming bargain of the year. For KLOS, Saturday was probably "the largest audience day in station history," general manager Bill Sommers said.
The 200 other stations across the country that carried the ABC Radio coverage of the benefit concerts didn't fare badly, either. According to Bob Benson, vice president and senior executive of ABC Radio, station response has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
Benson noted that the ABC Radio coverage allowed listeners a chance to hear a portion of every artist at both the London and Philadelphia concert sites. What's more, the radio broadcast was in stereo and, for the most part, avoided cutting off songs in the middle. Unlike ABC-TV, it carried Led Zeppelin's rock classic "Stairway to Heaven" in its entirety.
"Radio stations have been saying that they watched the concerts on MTV, ABC and the syndicated TV stations," said Benson. "And they said the only place they could get a flavor of the concerts was on the radio."
Since it covers a huge market, KLOS paid top dollar for broadcast rights to the Live Aid concerts. That figure, though, was only $7,500. Not bad for 18 hours of top-notch radio programming available nowhere else in Southern California.
Other stations in smaller markets across the country paid far less for rights to the radio special: The average price for the show was just $1,500.
KLOS pre-sold commercials for the concerts. Consequently, it charged its normal advertising rates, according to general manager Sommers. But the cost of Saturday's broadcast, Sommers added, was higher than normal, what with extra engineers and KLOS reporters in London and Philadelphia.
Not that Sommers is complaining. . . .
"Anybody who was on (the ABC Radio feed) got a steal," he said. "The response was phenomenal."
The audience was so big, Sommers said, that he would not even hazard a guess as to its girth. But he did say that two million listeners was a "conservative estimate."
During Saturday's broadcast, KLOS was careful to remind its huge audience to what station it was listening.
Station identifications were as ubiquitous as sunburned Live Aid concert-goers. The message: y'all come back and see us sometime.
"What's important is that the audience rely on us to cover the largest music events in the world," Sommers explained. "You can count on KLOS to cover the best concerts."
KLOS had been active in the famine relief effort long before the Live Aid concerts. It staged a 46-hour radiothon earlier in the year that has raised $150,000 so far, according to Sommers. And KLOS broadcast the toll-free phone number for Live Aid contributions during its Saturday concert coverage. (Live Aid organizers have said contributions stand at $40 million.)
More creative Live Aid fund raising was left to other radio stations. A station in Florida, WSHE, auctioned a trip to the London concert for $6,000; a station in Connecticut, WRKI, sold autographed albums--including ones by Hall & Oates and Bruce Springsteen--for more than $1,000 apiece. All monies, according to Benson, will go to the Live Aid foundation.