Clear Channel Radio has formed a new content research and development team to leverage the company's resources for new alternate delivery systems. The team is headed by executive VP of content develop

Clear Channel Radio has formed a new content research and development team to leverage the company's resources for new alternate delivery systems. Headed by executive VP of content development Tom Owens and executive VP of online music and radio Evan Harrison, the team also includes former regional VP of programming/modern rock KTCL (Channel 93.3) Denver PD Mike O'Connor and Eric Seibert, recently recruited from IBM.

"The purpose of the group is to generate new thinking," Owens tells Billboard Radio Monitor in an exclusive interview. That means "fresh ideas on talent, product, features, formats and partnerships."

Among the new content initiatives already underway:

* A Cincinnati-based "format lab" that will house 75 low clutter formats, running the gamut from mass appeal to ultra niche and available to the company's terrestrial, HD multicast, Internet and wireless platforms.

* A Web-ready visual adaptation of Frostbytes, the John Frost comedy service, customized for each client station's online use.

Additionally, the company plans to:

* Offer commercial-deleted versions of thirty of its terrestrial radio products through wireless carriers, including several offered internationally.

* Obtain licensing rights across all major formats to synchronize, with on-air programming, music videos streamed on its Web sites and via cell phones.

Owens says "numerous other projects are in the wireless pipeline" but won't elaborate, citing confidentiality agreements and competitive concerns.

With subscriber counts for each of the three dominant cell phone companies exceeding 40 million, Owens sees wireless providers posing a greater competitive threat to radio than either satellite radio or the Internet. "The mergence of wireless, Internet, and personal portable devices is going to make the next decade very interesting and places a huge premium on our response," he says.

Read more about Clear Channel's new content development strategy in "21st Century Radio: Inside CC's Programming Think Tank With Tom Owens and Sean Compton," in the September 16 print edition of Billboard Radio Monitor.

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