Before You Take Off, Tune In and Listen Up

Enter the travel section of any bookstore and chances are you'll be confronted with walls of travel guides catering to every sort of vacation: luxury travel, family-focused trips, collegiate backpacking, historical, and sports getaways.

Fodor's Travel Publications has approached the continued thirst for travel information and the resulting overload of personality-specific guides in a new, and (literally) unbound fashion.

Joining the ranks of "CarTalk" on weekend radio is "Fodor's Travel Show," produced out of New York's WOR, the city's No. 1 talk-radio station.

The two-hour program airs around most of the country on Saturday afternoons (and in some areas on Sundays).

The show is hosted by veteran travel journalist Valarie D'Elia and dips into the vast well of information resources available through Fodor's staff of 500 correspondents and industry experts.

"The show covers the needs of all travelers," says Bonnie Ammer, president and publisher of Fodor's Travel Publications. "Fodor's philosophy is that a smart traveler is an informed traveler."

To that end, the show explores the gamut of travel-related subjects from tours of Yucatn's Mayan ruins, RV travel with kids, honeymoon packages, and cycling through Vietnam, to the world's safest destinations for women travelers and live sporting events like the Masters tournament. Callers phone in questions about exploring off-the- beaten-path destinations or how to find the best air fares. Service elements such as how to take good photos and videos, or avoid travel pitfalls, are usually discussed.

Exploring new ways to follow trends in travel, the host has interviewed authors on the locales in their popular books (recently author Anne Rice talked about her hometown, New Orleans).

Coinciding with up-coming Restaurant Week, New York's preeminent dining critics will pepper the program with their insights.

This past weekend's opening-parade spectacle for Disney's animated film "Hercules" was broadcast live, and featured interviews with company executives and spectators on the streets.

Now in its fourth month on the air, the new program shows signs of success: The number of stations picking up the program nationally has increased from 69 to 86, and audience response has been strong.

On Fodor's Web site (www.fodors.com), visitors can listen in on the previous week's program (RealAudio must be downloaded). Fodor's hopes to eventually simulcast the radio program over the Internet.

So if you're trying to decide between a ballpark vacations with the kids or a Central Asia adventure, perhaps tuning in during Saturday car-washing can save you time at the bookstore's travel section.

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