Alt Weeklies Get New Personals Offering

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Publishers of alternative weeklies can now offer their readers personals advertising that is fully integrated with local Web and telephone voice mail services without using often expensive 900 numbers.

The new offering, dubbed SelectAlternatives, is the brainchild of Andy Sutcliffe, who developed voice personals in the Boston Phoenix in 1988 and was the founding president of TPI. So far, according to a statement from Sutcliffe’s Tucson, Ariz.-based company, the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper have signed on and are expected to offer the new service in May.

“Select Alternatives brings together a bunch of elements that make it very exciting–the flexibility for users to respond easily online or via the phone, an intensely local perspective, and the ability for us to maintain control of the relationship with our users,” Jane Levine, publisher of the Chicago Reader, said in the statement.

The new service allows each newspaper to customize their personals by including publication-specific elements such as readers’ favorite neighborhood bars. Because of this, Sutcliffe said SelectAlternatives will have an advantage over national services, such as Match.com and Spring Street Networks.

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