- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ledo Pizza, the Annapolis chain famous for its square pies, has a new marketing gambit.

The pizza franchise recently purchased naming rights to the tongue-in-cheek “glass-enclosed nerve center” of radio news outlet WTOP-FM (103.5).

So, for the rest of the year, every day on the top of the hour, listeners will be reminded by an announcer that the broadcast is emanating from the station’s “Ledo Pizza glass-enclosed nerve center.”

“It’s basically just to increase our awareness around town, to make sure everybody thinks about us,” said Will Robinson, Ledo’s marketing director.

Mr. Robinson said the pizza company, which regularly advertises on radio, came up with the idea and presented it to WTOP a month ago with the goal of reaching the top-rated station’s wide audience.

The amount of the sponsorship was not disclosed.

“You can stick a sponsor name on anything that moves or doesn’t move,” said Tom Taylor, editor of Inside Radio. “It’s a consistent marketing message. It’s a brand-building exercise for the sponsor.”

But, Mr. Taylor warned, “you don’t want to create an objectionable amount of clutter.”

Joel Oxley, senior vice president of WTOP parent company Bonneville International Corp., doesn’t seem to be worried. The station, which regularly has sponsors for sports, business and weather segments, eliminated a number of 10-second spots to compensate for the Ledo mouthful, he explained.

And what exactly is the glass-enclosed nerve center?

“It’s actually kind of a joke,” Mr. Oxley said of the phrase. Aside from straightforward news reporting, “We try not to be a superuptight news station.”

Unprogressive

A reader who was listening to WWRC-AM “Progressive Talk” (1260) Monday night pointed out that Steve Malzberg, host of a new syndicated program that was airing on the Clear Channel-owned outlet, is “anything but liberal.”

Channel Surfing asked Program Director Bill Hess what was up. It turns out that liberal talk-show host Lionel, who airs on WWRC from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., is being picked up by Air America and is on a break until May 21.

“We were carrying the fill-in show in the meantime, and based on the content of the fill-in show, we decided to make a short-term change,” Mr. Hess said yesterday afternoon. As of last night, the station is airing more of Randi Rhodes, whose show runs from 8 to 10 p.m., until Lionel returns.

TV moves

• Allison Seymour has been tapped to succeed Lark McCarthy as co-anchor of “Fox 5 Morning News.”

Mrs. Seymour, who has been at WTTG-TV (Channel 5) since 1999, will take over her new duties on June 4. Currently, she’s anchor of the Fox affiliate’s noon newscast and a contributor to the morning program.

She said she has big shoes to fill: Mrs. McCarthy, who has been with the station since 1990, is an original host of the morning program.

“I told Lark today on the air, I want her to be able to tune in at any moment and be proud,” Mrs. Seymour said of her predecessor, who is moving to Las Vegas.

• Mike Ward has joined WUSA-TV (Channel 9) as news director at the CBS affiliate, which is owned by Gannett Co. Inc.

Mr. Ward recently spent seven years as president and general manager of WNCN-TV, the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, N.C.

c Channel Surfing runs Wednesdays. E-mail krowland@washingtontimes .com.

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