- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hot 99.5 (WIHT-FM) has found another use for $20,000 now that it’s been freed of its commitment to help singer Bobby Brown with his legal problems.

Starting this week, the Top 40 Clear Channel outlet is sponsoring a promotion called “Pay It Forward,” with the goal of shelling out $1,000 each to 20 persons who “have a legitimate need for it and promise to make the world just a little better along the way.”

On Friday, the station said its deal with Mr. Brown — under which the singer reportedly promised to spend one week as an employee of 99.5 if the station bailed him out of jail in Massachusetts — was off after Mr. Brown wouldn’t discuss his failure to pay child support on the air.

Morning disc jockey Kane said he received a lot of feedback from listeners on how to spend the money.

“They didn’t want us to give it all out to one charity, and some listeners said that they needed the help,” said Kane, who hosts the weekday morning show from 5:30 to 10. “Listeners can go on the Web site, and they can tell us why they think they deserve it.”

Those applying for the cash have until the end of the month to make their case at Hot995.com.

Kane, who goes by one name, said charity was the reason the station pursued a deal with Mr. Brown, who was arrested in Massachusetts for failure to make child-support payments. But Mr. Brown hung up on the host during an on-air interview Friday.

“If nothing else, this has banded the D.C. community together,” he said. “I would love to see him try to do a concert here.”

But the debacle did more than bring people together — it also generated national press, which must come as welcome publicity for the new morning show. Kane took over in November after Clear Channel canned “Hot Morning Mess” hosts Mark Kaye and Kris Gamble.

Cable competition

Officials in Baltimore County this week voted to give Verizon Communications the green light to sell cable-television service and compete with area provider Comcast.

Phone giant Verizon is rolling out a fiber-optic network to offer its cable service, branded as FiOS TV.

For those keeping score of Washington-area Verizon cable licenses: that’s five counties in Maryland, five counties in Northern Virginia and 11 surrounding cities.

The Baltimore County Council decision came one day after the Federal Communications Commission released its final written order to ease video-franchising rules.

In other news …

• Advertising revenues from the Hispanic television and radio market are expected to reach $5.5 billion by 2010, a new study from Kagan Research finds.

Most of the growth is coming from cable networks, according to the firm, which projects revenue growth of 32 percent between 2002 and 2010 for cable, compared with 12.5 percent for broadcast networks.

“The rapid rise in population and purchasing power has made the Hispanic TV and radio audience a highly desirable market for networks, content owners and advertisers,” senior analyst Deana Myers said.

• When asked by Channel Surfing if he had a last name, Hot 99.5 FM’s Kane said that he didn’t want to tempt stalkers. “It’s not that I’m trying to be like Madonna or something,” he said.

Channel Surfing runs on Wednesdays. Call 202/636-3139 or e-mail [email protected] tontimes.com.

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