BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : NOVEMBER 20, 2000 ISSUE
BUSINESS WEEK E.BIZ -- UPSTARTS

ONLINE EXTRA: Q&A with Westwood One's Shane Coppola
"The most hotly demanded traffic service is to be connected to a live human being"

In the emerging world of wireless traffic reporting, Los Angeles-based TrafficStation has one formidable competitor: Westwood One. Through its ownership of Metro Networks and Shadow Broadcast Services, New York-based Westwood One provides traffic reports to 2,200 radio stations and 200 TV stations. L.A. correspondent Arlene Weintraub recently caught up with Westwood One Executive Vice-President Shane Coppola, who explained how Westwood One's alliances are helping to shape the company's digital strategy. Following are excerpts from their conversation:

Q: Westwood One's strength is broadcasting. How easily will that transfer to offering traffic reports via wireless devices?
A: Our goal is not to bring the reports directly to the consumer, but rather to the wireless operators. For that, all we really need is the underlying content, and on that score, we have a significant infrastructure in place. Through our ownership of Metro Networks and Shadow Broadcast Services, we have 3,000 reporters providing traffic information in 85 cities. We're flying 150 aircraft a day. Now we've acquired the technology to digitize that information for delivery to wireless devices.

Q: To what extent are you offering personalized traffic reports now?
A: Verizon wireless customers in 30 cities can press *jam on their phones and be connected to a live operator who will give them our traffic information. AT&T wireless customers in 50 cities can get the same service by pressing #road. We've found that the most hotly demanded traffic service is to be connected to a live human being.

Q: How will your traffic offerings grow in the coming years?
A: We will continue to offer more and more information on a customized basis. For example, we are in a test with Palm to offer real-time traffic through a "traffic" icon. We have a partnership with Mapquest that will provide customized maps via the Web that take current traffic conditions into account.

Q: What reach are you hoping to achieve with your personalized traffic products?
A: Now through radio and TV, we reach 125 million people a day. In the digital world, we're at about 50 million. But we expect our digital reach to be as big as our broadcasting reach within two years.



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