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The Audience Is Listening Val Maki, the head of L.A.’s top radio station Power 106, finds the right mix of talent, marketing strategies and of course music keeps the volume turned on high for the Emmis Commmunications property as it targets the Latino youth market By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter Val Maki’s career in radio has taken her on a whirlwind tour of the nation from Boston to New York to Chicago and currently L.A. On a clear day, the entire San Fernando Valley can be seen out of her eighth- floor Burbank office inside the headquarters of KPWR and KZLA radio stations. She has been the general manager for both since 1998. The former, however, is at the head of the pack it has consistently ranked in recent years as the top station by audience share in the competitive L.A. market. So far during Maki’s tenure, Power 106 has seen tremendous growth in advertising and anchored itself among English-speaking Latino youth, it’s “core” audience, Maki said. Advertising targeted specifically for that demographic has propelled the station to the top time and time again. Most listeners tune to Power to hear the hottest rap singles and win contests. Many others tune in every morning to hear radio personality Big Boy, who has found a niche on the radio waves with Big Boy’s Neighborhood, a show featuring pranks and frequent celebrity appearances. Maki recently discussed the success of power and the station’s plans for the future. Question: One of Emmis’ Communications Inc.’s two L.A. radio stations, Power 106, has been the top-rated station here since winter 2002. What do you attribute that to? Answer: Our senior director of marketing has been here for eight years. The lifestyle items that we give away, the contests that we do are other reasons that we generate ratings. With this format, a young audience, it’s really important to do those things. The other thing I attribute to staying ahead is hip hop music is extremely popular. We have played hip hop for a long time, and absolutely own that position in the marketplace. We do play some R & B; music, but our mainstay is hip hop and it has really become the global youth culture. It’s the most popular music on Earth. It’s kind of a universal language. Q: Can you describe the market for Power 106 specifically and how it has contributed to the station’s success? A: We target young Latinos. We target them in a product, and we deliver them in the ratings, and that’s not to say all we have is Latino listeners. When you really are targeting young people, obviously half the population under 34 is Latino. That’s who we are true to but obviously we have other ethnic groups listening to us. We have people here that live this format, like E-Man. He plays for NBA players’ weddings. I can say this unequivocally we have the world’s best mixers. They know what’s happening in the clubs these are the people that are really the best consultants. As a business, we try to target as many people as possible, without turning away our core. It’s a science and an art. Q: What are your observations of the advertising market now? A: Los Angeles again is an amazing marketplace. That’s been part of our good fortune. Even through all the tough times with the exception of 9/11, since 1998 to 2003, L.A. has grown 52 percent. This is a billion-dollar revenue market. We’ve had higher percentage increases. Our revenues more than doubled in that time and our revenue share has increased. It’s been a very healthy marketplace, and as good as that marketplace is, we’ve done better. Power 106 was the number five biller in the country last year, meaning we were the fifth highest in ranking by revenue. We have event revenue opportunities, such as concerts, and a pretty amazing Web site. We have revenue that comes from that (interactive media) it’s growing, although it’s not the major contributor. We see a huge marketing benefit, it extends our brand. We don’t stream, but it allows our audience to interact with us. It encourages audiences to listen in. We absolutely make money on it, I’m very proud of the content. Q: How is Los Angeles different from the markets that you have worked in, such as Chicago, your last stop? A: Chicago is the number three market in both population and revenue. There’s just so much more money in L.A. advertisers look to Los Angeles. It has become such an area to sell cars. Our relationship with our automobiles in Southern California thus the reason for radio being so amazing here, it’s unparalleled. You can’t really compare it to any other market. In Los Angeles, for instance, between 16 to 17 percent of advertising spending goes to radio, whereas the national average is about eight to nine percent. The other major difference is the Latino population. Q: Where do you hope to take Power 106? A: From a ratings standpoint, my answer would be to stay at the top of the ratings and widen the gap. Somehow we have to be innovative enough, and certainly that’s one of my goals. I think that the company’s culture is perfect to where the station can flourish. Certainly, the marketplace has a lot to say, but I think with this environment we can maximize. If we can improve on the innovation that will make the difference to keep us number one. Q: Are you doing any hiring and making any other investments directly attributable to the station’s success? A: We did just add an accounts payable department by one, there are now four people for the two stations. We also increased our engineering department, because of the amazing need for IT people. We have these great broadcast engineers. We’ve made a lot of improvements, including getting a new tracking and billing system. Q: Is Power 106 involved in any community organizations or charity? A: We have the Power of Speech program at Puente Learning Center. And, also have the Knowledge is Power Foundation, which is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. It has raised more than $1 million approaching $2 million and given away scholarships. The idea is that we’re helping to empower and educate young people. SNAPSHOT: Val Maki Title: Radio Division Vice President, Emmis Communications Inc. Born: May 3, 1962 College: Bachelor’s degree in management from DePaul University, 1998 (attended night classes while working at Emmis station in Chicago) Most Admired People: Rick Cummings and Jeff Smulyan, Emmis Communications executives Career Turning Point: Returning to managing a radio station in Boston after stint in Emmis’ corporate office Personal: Married, 2-year-old son

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