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Candidates, Political Groups Turn to Radio, Print, Web

As the Nov. 2 election draws closer, political advertisements are beginning to be routine on many San Diego media outlets as candidates and coalitions hope to get their message across to the voters.

On radio news station KOGO-AM 600, operated by San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications, 20 percent to 25 percent of the advertisements are political, said Cliff Albert, program director for KOGO.

“In the ‘Roger Hedgecock Show,’ it’s just over 40 percent,” Albert said.

Albert said he did not know the amount of revenue generated by political ads, but that rates climb as the election draws closer.

“The rate of course goes up based on demand, and right now, with two weeks to go and lots of demand, routine commercials are being bumped by politicals who are paying top dollar to get on,” Albert said. “More than one thousand a spot sometimes, depending on day-part (time of day).”


Some Ads Get Bumped

Radio stations often have to replace regular commercials to allow both sides of a measure or political opponents a chance to advertise on the station.

“For the most part we sell airtime to anybody who wants to purchase it,” said Dave Sniff, program director for KFMB-AM 760, operated by Midwest Television, Inc., which also operates KFMB-FM Star 100.7 and KFMB-TV Channel 8. “But there is a basic fairness. If we sell to say Phil Thalheimer (who is running for San Diego City Council) then we have to make that same spot available for the same rate to his opponent. You take someone who is not a political candidate and you bump them to make room for a political advertisement.”

On KFMB, the station has many ads running throughout the day, including advertisements for Propositions 68 and 70, the American Indian gaming measures; Proposition 72, the health tax measure; as well as some ads for local candidates.

Unlike most ads, political ads are subject to payment in advance, which guarantees the station the money no matter if the candidate or measure wins, Sniff said.

Gina Landau, KFMB’s director of sales, said that the station has seen more political ads by local candidates than expected.

“(Local) candidates have spent more money than we anticipated,” Landau said. “It has gotten heavier the closer to the election.”

Political advertising has accounted for about one-third of the station’s billing for the month, she said, although she wasn’t able to provide a monetary amount for the monthly billings.


Money Well Spent

Thalheimer, who has been airing ads on KFMB highlighting his plan to reduce traffic in the region, has spent about $40,000 on radio advertising, he said.

“The ads are absolutely beneficial,” Thalheimer said. “The ads have made people aware of me.”

Thalheimer, who is running against incumbent Scott Peters, began airing the ads Sept. 27.

In addition to KFMB, the ads can be heard on KOGO-AM 600 and KIFM-FM 98.1.

Thalheimer has also looked to print advertising, placing ads in the San Diego Jewish Journal, a monthly magazine aimed at the San Diego Jewish community.

Darrel Goodin, the general manager of the local affiliates of Jefferson-Pilot Communications Co., based in Greensboro, N.C., which owns and operates San Diego stations KSON-FM 97.3, KBZT-FM 94.9 and KIFM-FM 98.1, said a small percentage of his billings has come from political advertisements.

“It isn’t an overwhelming amount of money,” Goodin said. “In the overall scheme of things, this has been a light political year.”

Most of the political ads have been aired on Jefferson-Pilot’s local jazz station, KIFM, with about 16 advertisers running ads throughout the day, he said.

“They like to run their ads from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.,” Goodin said. “The most heavy frequency times (for the ads) are in the drives (commute times) and midday times.”

Although many advertisements have been heard on the radio, newspapers are also an outlet for political ads.

Chris Jennewein, director of Internet operations for signonsandiego.com, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Web site, said it has had two political advertisements running the last several weeks.

Peters, San Diego’s 1st District councilman, has been placing ads on the Web site, as well as advocates against Proposition B, a measure that would repeal the 1994 ballot measure approving the creation of a North County landfill.

Political ads are treated the same as other ads on the site, except that all political ads must be pre-paid, Jennewein said.

“Political ads get no special treatment; the rates are the same as they are for all types of advertising,” he said.

Jennewein said the Internet has become a good place for political advertising due to the growing online audience.

“Political campaigns are realizing that the Internet is a great place to reach the voter audience,” Jennewein said. “It is an advertising medium that makes a lot of sense.”

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