Fri, Mar 21, 2003 - Page 10 News List

ICRT to name new chief in management shake-up

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) will name a new general manager within the next couple of weeks and overhaul its programming starting next Monday, an executive of the radio station told the Taipei Times yesterday.

The station hopes the strategy will boost stagnant ratings and appeal to a wider local audience.

"We have decided to outsource a new general manager ... the appointment will be announced soon," said Nelson Chang (張安平), chairman of the Taipei International Community Cultural Foundation, a non-profit organization that oversees ICRT.

He refused to disclose the identity of the new boss, except to say he is Taiwanese and highly experienced in the local radio industry.

In December, ICRT's former general manager Doc Casey resigned after an internal battle over the station's future direction amid sagging sales.

Chang made the remarks on the sidelines of the station's program re-launch ceremony yesterday. Starting from Monday, three new disc-jockeys will join a weekday line up of seven DJs, in shorter two-to-three-hour programs.

The new line-up includes radio industry veterens Jeff Locker and Rick Monday as well as newcomer Emily David.

While ICRT is popular with listeners that tune in to hear Daybreak news, hosted by news director Todd Van Wyks and senior anchor Bill Thissen from 7am to 8am, the station is banking on a wake up call from Rick Monday's Morning Call show, from 8am to 11am, to keep the audience listening longer throughout day.

ICRT's most popular DJ, Ron Stuart, is also Taiwan's most popular personality in the late evening slot.

The station hopes the new radio personalities will help re-energize the 24-year-old station and focus on its niche market advantage -- English.

"We want to offer more English information in a format that is user-friendly to native Taiwanese," said Timothy Berge, an official at ICRT.

He said that the programming change also aims to boost ratings and bring in new listeners.

ICRT's strength lies in offering an English environment enables listeners to practice English, he said.

The chairman backed up the new focus on the big local audience saying "The majority of our audience is Taiwanese as are our our sponsors and advertisers," Chang said.

Despite the new direction, the station will not forget its core audience of some 400,000 foreigners in Taiwan, while acting as a bridge to helpTaiwanese to know the Western world, he said.

"With the government promoting English learning, we are glad to follow that trend."

Refusing to give figures, he said ICRT was close to breaking even last year and this year revenue is expected to stay at the same level.

The station's new strategy is a U-turn from it's plan last spring to take the number three spot in the ratings by offering more music and less talk.

But in the fourth quarter last year ICRT slipped to number eight in listener popularity in Taipei, down from the No. 6 position in the same period of 2001, according to ACNielsen Taiwan yesterday.

"I think a lot of people's reaction to more music and less talk was, more music, so what?" Berge said.

"Many stations now play Western music."

Maybe 10 or 20 years ago ICRT had the monopoly in broadcasting Western music, but that's not the case anymore, he said.

"If you are an English station you have to focus on English."

The station's average rating in the second half of last year was 5.3 percent, up 0.9 percent from the first-half of last year, ACNielsen said.

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