The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

26 April 2005

More New York City Ratings Fallout


Nuggets And Gems From Mainelli's New York Post Column

Has Don Imus had his day in the sun? Have Michael Savage and Janeane Garofalo (now there's a combo!) taken a bite out of WABC's ratings?

A number of interesting revelations about talk radio performance in New York have emerged from highly respected New York Post radio columnist John Mainelli.

In it, he reveals how Don Imus has seen a 50% audience decline over the past ten years, down 25% since last fall. Is it time to hang up the headphones?

Funny that Mainelli mentions him, because I noticed some new Imus brand products at the local Stop & Shop yesterday and was very curious as to how well they were selling.

This will fuel speculation in Boston, as to how much longer Imus can expect to hold down the morning slot at WTKK-FM, where drivetime is, nearly everywhere else, reserved for local hosts.

Imus has never done well outside of the Northeast. It's always been hard to find him on the West Coast. In Seattle, for instance, he was relegated to a small Everett station, until even they cancelled the show.

Mainelli then sheds light on WABC's recent huge slide in the ratings, down a full share since Arbitron's Fall, 2004 survey. A big issue is at night, where WABC is underperforming with Laura Ingraham and John Batchelor.

WOR, with Michael Savage and WLIB, with Janeane Garofalo are eating into WABC (kind of a strange thing to say- who's winning the audience, conservative Savage or liberal Garofalo?).

Batchelor's WABC show is the odd duck, sounding more at home on NPR, than commercial talk radio. He doesn't take calls and while syndicated, it's heard in just a few places. It reminds me of a radio version of "Nightline". I expect it won't be around much longer.

WABC also recently dropped live and local overnight talk, going instead with "Coast to Coast" and perhaps that hasn't been well received, either.

Another key point, backing up mine: even with WABC's big drop, Air America's WLIB went nowhere (save Garofalo's faint signs of life), with WABC beating it 3-to-1.

(New York Post- John Mainelli- 26 April 2005)

April 26, 2005 -- DON Imus, who dominated New York radio in the pre-Howard Stern era, has hit the ratings skids.

For the first time, Imus came dangerously close to dropping out of the Top 20 in Arbitron quarterly ratings released yesterday.

Now tied for No. 17, Imus was in the top 10 in New York radio just five year ago.

But radio's original bad boy lost a stunning 25 percent of his audience between last fall and winter — his lowest ratings yet and about half the listeners he had 10 years ago.

"The kind of guests Imus interviews shows he's one of the most influential people on radio and, of course, TV as well," Chernoff said, referring to Imus' MSNBC simulcast.

Imus frequently boasts — correctly — that his show is a big reason WFAN ranks among the nation's top-billing radio stations. As long as that keeps up, his job is secure.

* Conservative talker WABC plunged after the election but still beats liberal challenger WLIB 3-to-1.

* Night-owl personalities Michael Savage and Lionel (on WOR) and Janeane Garofalo (on WLIB) seem to have swiped listeners from WABC's Laura Ingraham-John Batchelor combo.

Update: David Hinckley has more, including specific NYC breakdowns, here. Nothing here that helps Air America, either.


  • In Boston Imus used to run on WEEI but they decided to dump it to air their own local show with sports guys John Dennis and Gerry Callahan. This immediately produced a ratings spike for WEEI. (Imus moved to WTKK, which was launching an all-talk format with Severin, Barnicle, Ingraham, and later, Hannity). Speaking of Ingraham, our thoughts and prayers are with Laura who just revealed she is battling breast cancer.
    --Bob Nelson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 16:37  

  • Maybe Imus's purpose for WTKK has been served. We'll see.

    Sorry to hear about Ingraham, is there any word on her condition? Is she feeling well?

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 26 April, 2005 17:26  

  • According to the National Ledger: "Laura Ingraham underwent what has been called successful surgery yesterday. Veteran radio talk show host Barry Farber filled in for Laura on Wednesday and during the first half hour of the show gave this update:

    "'Laura Ingraham, thank God, is fine [and] resting comfortably after successful surgery." Farber also mentioned that the surgery was "performed early." He also confirmed that Laura will be back on the air live on Thursday.

    Ingraham announced on Tuesday that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and the feisty blonde conservative even called in from the hospital right before the surgery.
    She asked for prayers and vowed to beat the disease. "If I can beat Chuck Schumer I can beat this," Ingraham told her radio audience yesterday.
    (Bob Nelson)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 April, 2005 11:38  

  • Well, Imus backed Kerry for President....think he lost some audience over that?

    By Blogger Maggie, at 27 April, 2005 12:09  

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