September 1st, 2006

Radio Station Sells Naming Rights to Car Dealer

By Mary Chao
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Sports stadiums and amphitheaters often sell naming rights, so why not radio stations?

So went the thinking of Matt Basile, marketing manager of Clear Channel Radio, which has seven stations in Rochester.

Clear Channel announced this week that it has sold the naming rights to its alternative rock station, WNVE-FM (107.3), to Fucillo Hyundai of Greece.

The station that has been known as the Nerve now becomes HUGE 107.3 FM — using the marketing catch-phrase “huge.” Billy Fucillo, who opened the Hyundai dealership in July, can often be seen on television ads touting his “huge” dealership.

Based in Adams, Jefferson County, Fucillo owns 20 car dealerships, mostly in New York state.

The revamped station plays a variety of music formats, including jazz and Motown, and will air only Fucillo car ads, Fucillo said. The format officially changed Wednesday, but the call letters remain WNVE-FM, Basile said.

Clear Channel and Fucillo declined to reveal the terms of the deal, with Fucillo saying only that it was a seven-digit transaction.

The change in format may be temporary and a marketing ploy, said Scott Fybush, editor of North East Radio Watch.

“It’s a publicity stunt,” Fybush said. “They’re transitioning to something else. Labor Day is a traditional time to change formats.”

Fybush credits Clear Channel with creative advertising. The station turned a no-profit situation of changing formats for its low-rated station into a highly lucrative scenario, with an advertiser buying temporary naming rights, he said.

When asked if the naming rights to WNVE-FM are temporary, Basile replied, “Is anything in radio permanent?”


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