Help-wanted ads turn former jazz station into 'Job Radio'

December 08, 1992|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Job seekers in Baltimore have a new source of regular employment listings: the radio. In an enterprise due to expand to other cities, local station WEBB-AM (1360) yesterday adopted a new format broadcasting nothing but help wanted ads and employment information.

The station, with the new call letters WHLP and new slogan "Job Radio 1360," began airing a steady stream of announcer-read advertisements for job openings in the area. An Illinois-based firm, the Bankers Group, has acquired rights to the station, and the Baltimore operation is said to be the first in the nation to broadcast only employment advertising.

Mayor Kurt S. Schmoke ceremonially threw the switch to launch the station at a noon press conference, and a representative of Gov. William Donald Schaefer also attended to wish the station well.

"We're doing something that hasn't been done before," said Tom Dore, general manager of WHLP, an employment field specialist who has come to Baltimore from the Chicago area to establish the operation.

"All we do is broadcast job openings for employers. . . . The format will sound very much like an all-news operation," said Robert W. Pachaly, the consultant who originated the want-ad radio idea.

The station's job listings include "everything from pizza delivery boys to chief financial officers," he said, adding the format will also be launched soon in other cities. Mr. Dore said initially the East Coast would be targeted, but that within a year, "We should be in every major market in the country."

First-day broadcast hours of WHLP were noon to 4:30 p.m. Today the schedule was to expand to 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. A 24-hour broadcast is planned by February.

WEBB previously broadcast a jazz and rhythm-and-blues format, and shared management and studio space at 3000 Druid Park Drive with sister station WBGR-AM 860, a gospel format.

Maurice H. Hulbert, general manager of WBGR, said yesterday his station had provided jobs to four sales people previously with WEBB. But seven on-air staff members, including some part-timers, had not been accommodated.

Mr. Dore said all WEBB employees had been invited to apply for jobs at WHLP, but he said he did not know how many had done The station does not broadcast music.

The switch brings to an end a relatively old Baltimore radio station. WEBB was established in 1955 with a music format, and adopted its call letters in honor of jazz musician Chick Webb, Mr. Hulbert said.

WBGR is owned by Mortonson Broadcasting Co., which had also leased WEBB from its owner, Allied Media Communications of Woodstock, Vt. Mr. Dore said the sale of the station to the Bankers Group is under way.

The WHLP operation has new studio facilities in the Rutherford Plaza in Woodlawn. Mr. Dore said employees come from both sales and radio backgrounds, and said on-air announcers will also be those who sell ads.

"We're looking for a lot of feedback from listeners," he said, noting the format is still being fine-tuned.

Mr. Pachaly said the bulk of programming will consist of announcers reading ads, mostly for local employers. However, the station has also produced a number of serial-edition informational specials on related subjects, such as profiles of particular career fields, advice on starting a business and money management.

Mr. Dore said the cost of advertising for small businesses is low, "basically lunch money." A single 30-second help wanted ad, for example, would cost $20. More frequent airings would bring the per-broadcast cost down below $15, he added.

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