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Lights, Camera Action: Meruelo Studios Bridges Gap Between Artists, Listeners And Advertisers.

The benefits of owning radio and television stations are on display at L.A.’s Meruelo Studios. The complex in the former GAM Arts Center, which boasts full service television production facilities, is being used for private artist performances and interviews, webcasts, and station anniversaries that bring listeners closer to radio, live music and sponsors.

With two TV stations and four radio stations in the market, Meruelo Media was looking for new ways to generate difficult to-duplicate content and to activate groups of people for sponsors.

The complex, in L.A.’s Mid-Wilshire district, includes the smallish Studio A, the larger Studio B with a 200-person capacity, nearly 4,000 square feet of space, a state-of-the-art control room, editing, audio and graphics capabilities. There’s also Studio C, an atrium that acts as a staging area/holding room for checking in guests and pre-event hospitality with food and drink provided by sponsors.

The Black Crowes, who have sold 30 million albums, performed an early afternoon private Rock Room show for contest winners of Meruelo’s heritage rocker KLOS last Thursday in Studio B, preceded by an interview with the station’s Matt Pinfield and Marci Wiser. KLOS has a 34-year history with the band. The event teed up their Happiness Bastards tour ahead of two nights at L.A.’s famed Greek Theater. George Thorogood and the Deytroyers recently marked their 50th anniversary with a rousing Rock Room performance. Other KLOS acts have included Dirty Honey and Puddle of Mudd.

“I said, ‘Alright guys, let's roll up our sleeves. You guys bring the advertisers, you guys bring the artist and I'll put a show together. And we created a party in middays,” says Meruelo Media President/CEO Otto Padron, a former TV show producer for Univision.

Showcase For New Acts, Station Anniversaries

Hip-hop sister “Power 106” KPWR uses Studio A as a springboard for up and coming acts with its “Up Next” series. Spanish CHR “Cali 93.9” KLLI morning host Angelica Vale also hosts events in Studio A.

Classic hip-hop KDAY (93.5) used Studio B to host a 40th anniversary of the original KDAY (first heard on 1580 AM, now KBLA), the legendary radio station that pioneered the city's rap movement. The two-hour show, which streamed live, featured performances from DJ Quik, Dogg Pound, Rodney O and Joe Cooley, along with a video salute from Dr. Dre, who hosted “The Traffic Jam” on the original KDAY.

An event is planned to mark the 40th anniversary of “Breakfast With The Beatles,” which airs Sunday mornings on KLOS, hosted by Chris Carter and is believed to be America’s longest running Beatles show. Also on the books this year is a fifth anniversary event for Cali 93.9.

Across its four L.A. radio stations, Meruelo has done more than a dozen live events in the studios.

Its foray into video has its roots in the pandemic, when the company added digital video capabilities to its radio studios in Burbank. It made a bigger leap when it began shooting video of performances and interviews at Studio A at the Pico Blvd. facility in Mid-Wilshire.

The programs help pay it forward by offering opportunities for young, aspiring media professionals to get experience behind the camera and other behind-the-scenes work.

Meruelo monetizes the live events by selling sponsorship packages that give clients prime on-air visibility. Helpful Honda is the title sponsor. It also helps the radio brands build and strengthen relationships with artists and record labels, who use the event as part of their marketing strategies. There’s also a promotional value to the station via contesting to win tickets. And it serves to reinforce radio’ s value to clients and listeners. “The client gets to see the power of radio and its relevance,” says Padron.

Breaking Down The Barriers

Perhaps the biggest payoff for Meruelo and other broadcasters who stage live performance studio events is breaking down the barriers between listeners, artists and sponsors. “To look out the control room window and see a room full of people that heard about the show on radio, participated in a station call-in contest, invited a friend to come with them and when they get there, guess who the host is? It’s that radio station that people heard and wanted to be part of, and now they get to see it, live it and be close to the on-air talent. To me that's priceless,” says Padron. “This addresses so many requirements for us, and it becomes a unique promotion that nobody else can replicate.”

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