The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

24 June 2005

New Ratings, Anyone?

More Audience Erosion

Conservative Boston Talkers Strong, Air America Flat



(Updated For The Weekend, Scroll To Bottom For Latest)


Is the recent talk radio listenership dropoff continuing?

We now have ratings figures representing a number of cities, for the three-month period of March, April and May. Earlier hints of audience decay have now become apparent in many places.

Indications are for a sustained, rocky period for talk radio. Exceptions are emerging, most notably in Boston, where conservative talk radio is gaining strength.

In New York, talk radio has been in a serious state of decline, while in Washington DC, a slight comeback for the largest talker may not be enough to avoid changes.

While the Radio Equalizer takes care to avoid industry jargon, it should be noted that these figures represent the latest rolling average of three monthly trends. Officially, it's known as Phase II of the Spring 2005 Arbitron Ratings Survey.

The full Spring 2005 Arbitron "book" will be revealed next month and it's one of the two most important releases of the year. Interim monthly trends like this one are known for being volatile.

Air America's flagship station, WLIB in New York City, is still stuck in first gear. It turned in an essentially flat performance in the broadest audience measurement gauge, moving up from a 1.2 to a 1.3 share. That tiny change is considered statistically insignificant.

That result was good for 24th place overall.

With 14 months of data, it's fair to say WLIB has had its chance to break out of the bottom of the pack. But it just isn't happening.

WABC saw more losses, as issues unique to the station and market, continue to hurt it. Falling to a sad 11th place overall, it has now lost market share for nearly three straight quarters. Next month's final data will allow us to remove "nearly" from the previous sentence.

In terms of 12+ audience share, WABC is now down to a miserable 3.2 share, from a 4.5 peak last autumn.

Michael Savage has helped otherwise-moribund, antique WOR take a bite out of WABC's evening ratings. Meanwhile, there are bigger programming issues the station has failed to address in recent months, with painful results.

We don't yet have breakdowns by daypart to see exactly where the damage is greatest, but there's simply no doubt that WABC must do a radical rethink of much of its schedule.

More specific data should emerge later in the week.

The party line continues to blame a post-election decline in listener interest, but I don't buy the excuse. Solid air talent would understand how to keep the audience interested.

One mistake seems to be going with syndicated programming from 10pm to 5am, a recent development for WABC and a peculiar move for the nation's largest city. These overall ratings figures are only for 6am-midnight, however, so it's hard to believe this is the main problem.

Many stations around the country have held on well since November, while several ABC talkers, such as WABC, WMAL/Washington and WBAP/Dallas have shown declines. WMAL's losses are so significant, the station's future could be at stake, if changes aren't made soon.

On Long Island, a smaller and less significant radio market, WABC actually gained some ground, as did WLIB. Arbitron data for the market, ranked eighteenth in size, tends to swing wildly from month to month.

Meanwhile, a liberal talk-formatted radio station in Alaska has agreed to a union-sponsored bailout, in order to keep it from folding. According to Perry M Simon, talk radio reporter for industry publication All Access:

A union local has purchased a liberal talk station in ANCHORAGE, according to the ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, which reports that the INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS Local 1547 is paying $160,000 to buy KUDO-A from CHINOOK CONCERT BROADCASTERS.

The station has struggled financially and has been asking listeners for donations to stay afloat; the union's newly-formed IBEW INVESTMENTS will buy the station and will put another $340,000 into the station over the next three years for improvements and programming.

Get a load of this, from the Anchorage Daily News story:

Several International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547 board members had been interested in buying a station for years, said Gary Brooks, the local's business manager and financial secretary.

About a year ago, when the most recent board started looking again, KUDO started up.

"It was good to see someone else was exploring the same thing," starting a station with a liberal bent, Brooks said.

The idea for the new format started in McClear's mind, he said, when he heard Alaska politicians comment that it was hard to talk about taxes because if they did, they would be shouted down by Anchorage right-wing talk show hosts.

So, the station with founded with a tax-hiking agenda in mind? No wonder it couldn't make any money- what businesses would want to be associated with that kind of bent?

Can you imagine the stink liberals would raise if conservative talkers were to be bailed out this way? Would you want your union dues earmarked for a proven financial sinkhole?

What reason would the IBEW have to purchase the station, other than to promote a left-wing ideology?

I hope the rank-and-file members pay attention to where their money is going, this looks like a great way to drain the pension fund.

Tuesday Evening:

In Los Angeles, conservative KFI took a slight dip, from a 4.2 to a 4.0 and slipped to fifth place from third. Long-adrift KABC registered another anemic 2.2 share, ranking 16th.

KFI continues to lead the market by taking up causes, such as the flap over the anti-American Mexican billboards, that caused great controversy nationwide. Instead of merely reacting to the news, hosts such as John and Ken create it, generating publicity for the station.

Liberal talker KTLK took 39th place, still hovering near rock bottom, but rising slightly from a 0.4 to a 0.6. It's now slightly beating the Southland's Persian-language station.

Baseball was king for Chicago's news-talk WGN, which sees an annual seasonal ratings surge. It rose from a 5.4 to a 6.4, good for a solid first place.

ABC's WLS took a tumble, falling to eighth place, from a 4.1 to a 3.7. Last year, the station peaked at a 4.4. With top-notch programming hire Kipper McGee now in charge, look for positive changes, coming soon.

McGee will have his work cut out for him, but the staff is excited to finally have an advocate for solid radio in the programming chair.

New Air America affiliate WCPT hasn't yet shown up in the Chicagoland figures, but's it too soon to make a determination.


San Diego's conservative KOGO takes another small hit, from a 4.8 to a 4.5, down from a 5.3 peak earlier this year. It's still in third place and there's no reason for any real alarm here, the station is still leading the market.

Where there is a full-blown emergency is with rival KFMB-AM. The station seems to be digging in its heels as it bleeds to death. Programming needs to be reviewed urgently. Its owner, Midwest TV, is not talk radio savvy.

It's now in 11th place, with a 3.0 share. Last year, it had a 4.8.

With excellent local talker Rick Roberts, the station did well for a brief period, but an unwillingness to add live, local hosts is killing KFMB. Hope the money saved was worth the severe damage.

Air America/ liberal station KLSD, widely touted as evidence San Diego was turning liberal, is still stuck with a 1.6 and 24th place. It hasn't budged in three months.

In Milwaukee, talker WTMJ continues to dominate, with a 8.4 rating and a lock on first place. Clear Channel's rival WISN is also strong, rising from a 4.2 to a 4.4, good for eighth.

Wednesday Evening:

In Philadelphia, a huge market with little talk radio variety, saw Infinity's WPHT drop again, from a 3.8 to a 3.3. It peaked last summer with a 4.3. The company cut back on local talk some time back and seems to be paying the price. Last November's election isn't a factor in the drop, the highest ratings were recorded months earlier.

Liberal talker WHAT-AM fell from a 0.6 to a 0.5, now just four notches from last place, in 27th overall.


Detroit's conservative WJR slipped from a 6.1 to a 5.4, falling to second place. The biggest losses are consistently coming from ABC's news/talk stations.

Clear Channel's liberal talker WDTW turned in a flat 0.5 share, for 27th place. At least it's now beating Canadian talker CKLW-AM in the Motor City, even if only by 0.1 share.

Thursday Evening:


San Francisco's KGO held first place with virtually no change: a 6.7 overall share.

Conservative talker KSFO turned in similar numbers to last month, but rose to fourth place, with a 3.8 share. It seems to be on a recent upswing. Sean Hannity is featured in afternoons on this ABC station.

Would-be KSFO rival KNEW continues to fail, with a 1.4 overall rating and 21st place. It was meant to be a vehicle for Rush Limbaugh, but he re-signed with KSFO, leaving KNEW with next to nothing. Michael Savage holds down afternoons on the Clear Channel talker.

This flat overall result hides even weaker 25-54 and May ratings breakouts. Sources say little attention is now being paid to the station by management, as they've all but given up, without Rush coming on board.

Air America's KQKE rises slightly, but stays within its recent range. It went from a 1.0 in winter, to a 0.9 last month, to a 1.1 now. KGO would have to be destroyed by a typhoon before KQKE could ever hope to gain much of a foothold in the Bay Area.

Boston's two conservative talkers saw strength this month. A major advertising campaign, including outdoor billboards that were hard to miss on I-93 and elsewhere, boosted WRKO's fortunes. It rose from a 4.3 to a 4.7, good for 6th place. It's Boston's Limbaugh outlet.

FM talker WTKK also scored gains, rising to 8th place, from a 3.7 to a 4.0 share. Heavy marketing has long been a part of the station's strategy.

That's an 8.7 combined conservative talk share for Boston, wow!

News-talk market leader WBZ, with a heavy emphasis on the former, took a hit this time. It fell from 7.3 to a 6.8, but retained first place. Cutbacks in the talk product and the passing of market legend David Brudnoy late last year, may be hurting the station slightly. Brudnoy, by the way, was conservative.

Air America has two stations in the Hub market. After falling to a 0.0 share last month, Franken talker WKOX-AM returns with a 0.1, good for last place in Beantown. Its sister station generated a 0.3, for a combined 0.4 liberal talk rating. Thanks to Boston's Bob Nelson for the corrected information.

In San Jose, California, KGO fell from a 7.2 to a 6.8 but kept first place, KSFO was flat and in sixth, KNEW was damaged further, falling to a 1.0 from a 1.4, while Air America's KQKE rose slightly to a 0.8, good for 33rd.

San Jose is an "embedded market", meaning it's measured both on its own and as part of the San Francisco Bay Area ratings. It's a fairly unusual situation.

Weekend Update:


Washington's WMAL rebounded slightly this month, but the damage has been so severe recently, changes are still mandatory. It came in 13th, with a 3.2.

That's an improvement, but the station's still bleeding badly. As recently as a year ago, it was always at least in the top five. According to DCRTV, an excellent Beltway media site, WMAL's morning show ranked a sorry 19th in the revenue-critical 25-54 age group.

Fred Grandy, former congressman and "Love Boat" star, was initially thought to be a great fit for the morning drive program, but something doesn't seem to be clicking with listeners, or perhaps there are bigger station issues.

The bulk of a station's ad dollars come from those early hours, so the sales department must be screaming in agony.

It doesn't seem to be getting much better through the rest of the day, either. Will the station take action before it's too late?

Have you heard WMAL recently? What do you think is the problem?

Infinity's WJFK-FM is no longer much of a factor in DC, coming in with a 2.3, down from a 2.6 last month and 2.9 in the Winter 2005 Arbitron Survey.

Air America's WWRC takes last place in the market, with a 0.3, down from a 0.4 last month.


Watch for updates each weeknight. Many cities will report figures Monday through Thursday this week. Watch for Dallas, Seattle, Denver, St. Louis and many more big cities. We'll have it all here.

53 Comments:

  • Can you imagine the stink liberals would raise if conservative talkers were to be bailed out this way? Would you want your union dues earmarked for a proven financial sinkhole?

    You mean like Sun Myung Moon and Richard Mellon Scaife keep right wing media outfits from going under, to the tune of millions a year in bailout money?

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 21 June, 2005 03:04  

  • Hello,

    I am the President of Chinook Concert Broadcasters, the sellers of KUDO.

    Your article contains several errors, some of which are understandable but several of which must be ascribed to wishful thinking on your part.

    We have owned KUDO for a number of years and, frankly, never put much effort into it, nor did we expect much out of it. We purchased it primarily as a hedge on IBOC and were content to let it sit with our FM carrying it financially.

    We adopted progressive programming a year ago because it seemed like a potentially interesting and profitable niche. It has proven to be both.

    Shortly after we switched to progressive programming the IBEW contacted us and inquired about investing in the station. Negotiations proceeded slowly and we finally struck a deal.

    Our company will continue to operate KUDO on behalf of the IBEW. Had this provision not been included in our agreement Chinook would not have agreed to sell the station. The upside of progressive radio is too interesting and too exciting.

    So, if you're looking for proof of the demise of progressive radio you'll have to look elsewhere than the sale of KUDO. Sorry Brian, dream on.

    This a good deal for us and a good deal for the union.

    While you are right in saying we solicited contributions on-the-air this was not a move to save the station or any such thing. Frankly, we simply saw it as a new revenue stream. Its wonderful to have seen a station go from something which few people found of any interest to a cause to which people are willing to donate.

    I would have been happy to share any of this information with you had you bothered to contact us.

    Next time you might want try doing some inquiries of your own instead of merely trying to read between the lines of other people's journalism.

    By Anonymous Rick Goodfellow, at 21 June, 2005 18:44  

  • Brian,

    One more thought:

    Perhaps you'd like to come on KUDO and tell our listeners how much you know about the sale of KUDO and the business affairs of Chinook Concert Broadcasters.

    Please Brian, amaze me with your knowledge of my finances.

    Here's your invitation:

    Tomorrow afternoon, June 22, I will substitute for our noted conversative host, Jack Frost. I'll be happy to chat with you on the air between 5 and 6 p.m. Alaska time, that's 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern.

    If you can do the show contact our KUDO GM, Rich McClear. His e-mail is rich@kudo1080.com

    By Anonymous Rick Goodfellow, at 21 June, 2005 20:15  

  • Rick:

    I'm sorry you're upset about my article. It's based on reports from your Anchorage newspaper and industry trade publication All Access.

    If I somehow got the wrong impression from their reports, which are linked in the article, I will reconsider what I've written.

    Otherwise, have you considered contacting the publications, to note their errors?

    I don't claim to be an expert on your finances, what was written is based on their reporting.

    To have a for-profit business solicit donations on-air is frankly weird, not to mention unwise.

    It certainly gives the impression of financial instability.

    I don't generally think it's wise to make an investment based on political alliances and the union made allusions to that in the coverage.

    What do union members deserve, the best return on their investment, or to see their money become a subsidy for a business based on a political ideology?

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 21 June, 2005 21:51  

  • Brian, I don't know how much stock I'd put into what Rick had to say. Let me quote his first post:

    We adopted progressive programming a year ago because it seemed like a potentially interesting and profitable niche. It has proven to be both.

    "Shortly after we switched to progressive programming the IBEW contacted us and inquired about investing in the station. Negotiations proceeded slowly and we finally struck a deal."

    By Ricks own words it took less than a year to consumate this deal, that is not "proceeding slowly." That is breakneck speed. I bought a tiny (1,700 sq ft) bar and it took over 8 months to get everything finalized. And that was without any snafus. These things take time, licenses, insurance, etc...

    By Blogger RUMPLEMINTZ, at 21 June, 2005 22:07  

  • Brian,

    Come on now. Its the old distract and distort game you're playing though I know you're capable of better.

    As you well know, neither the Anchorage Daily News nor All Access got it wrong. In fact, their reports are quite accurate as such things go. Do either call it a bail-out? Nope. That's your invention.

    As for your business advice, thanks. Time will tell if I should have heeded it but at the moment I am quite happy with my business arrangements.

    So, are you going to guest with me tomorrow on KUDO?

    By Anonymous Rick Goodfellow, at 21 June, 2005 22:11  

  • Rick,

    if I understand you correctly, you liked the product (progressive/liberal programming) so much that you sold the company (the station)?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 June, 2005 23:01  

  • Rick:

    I'm not playing any games, if there's an issue with my coverage, I will check it out.

    I did, but it left me perplexed about your beef.

    Both All Access and the Anchorage Daily News have reported on your station's financial struggles. The on-air appeal for cash is noted both times.

    All Access said your station was struggling financially, that the union money would provide a cash infusion for operational expenses.

    That, at least to me, is a bailout. I don't see how to call it anything else.

    I don't have any problem with your intent to sell the station, whether it's losing money or not, the facility, licence and towers have a certain monetary value regardless of programming success.

    It's not my place to challenge that.
    Recently, I've watched a former Seattle business news station with no ratings and a lousy signal become an overnight Spanish radio success.

    I do question a union using its resources to purchase a radio station, especially when it's stated that the programming ideology is a reason for buying it.

    Union workers (including myself as an AFTRA member) reflect many political ideologies.

    This type of investment should be about return, not partisan politics.

    I'm not trying to give you business advice, my objection was to the union's purchase of the station for the stated political reasons, not to anything you were doing.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 22 June, 2005 01:37  

  • BTW, as for the interview, I would consider it, but am not sure of the point. I've done a number of them recently on topics covered here.

    I don't claim to be an expert on your station or its finances, I have been busy detailing the downfall of liberal talk radio in almost every city, with very few exceptions.

    I have an opinion on that and about union funds, as well. That's really the extent of what I've written here.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 22 June, 2005 01:41  

  • Comment on this blog:

    "By Ricks own words it took less than a year to consumate this deal, that is not "proceeding slowly." That is breakneck speed. I bought a tiny (1,700 sq ft) bar and it took over 8 months to get everything finalized. And that was without any snafus. These things take time, licenses, insurance, etc..."

    The link to the newspaper said the deal was made not that it had gone through the FCC yet.. So, perhaps a year to reach this point may be proceeding slowly from Rick's point of view.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2005 03:38  

  • Thank you for the excellent and informative post! I've referred to it in an entry today on my blog, Capital Region People.

    It's that old fear from the 1980's: The Consultants seem to be taking control of radio again!

    By Anonymous Dave Lucas, at 22 June, 2005 07:56  

  • Can you imagine the stink liberals would raise if conservative talkers were to be bailed out this way? Would you want your union dues earmarked for a proven financial sinkhole?

    In Anchorage we have a failed conservative newspaper "The Anchorage Times" that is now being financed solely by oil servide companies. They have been desperately trying to tap into Alaska's permanent fund and impose a sales tax on Alaskans so the oil companies won't have to pay any taxes. Oil companies made over $3 billion in profit last quarter in Alaska, but the "Conservative Voice of Alaska" wants to tax the poor single moms and working stiffs. Good to see which side of the aisle you're on, Maloney - you freakin corporate shrill.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2005 13:42  

  • I'm an IBEW 1547 member. We've got one of the best pensions in the country. None of our pension money is going into this station.

    Since you're so concerned about people losing pensions, perhaps you should talk with some of your fellow Republicans. In Alaska, the Republican House, Senate and Governor just stripped public employees of their pensions. I'm glad the IBEW is fighting to get the voice of the working people out there. There are enough people like you who would like nothing better than to strip all us working people of our pensions. Keep on fighting, IBEW!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2005 14:16  

  • Perhaps this is just crazytalk, y'know...but it seems to me that if Air America stations are remaining flat, or even gaining (however incrementally) while conservative talk stations are experiencing (in some cases quite dramatic) losses in listenership...it seems to me that probably is a fact in favor of the lib talk format. Lib talk weathers the storm and presses ahead while conservative talk falters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2005 21:17  

  • Perhaps this is just crazytalk, y'know...but it seems to me that if Air America stations are remaining flat, or even gaining (however incrementally) while conservative talk stations are experiencing (in some cases quite dramatic) losses in listenership...it seems to me that probably is a fact in favor of the lib talk format. Lib talk weathers the storm and presses ahead while conservative talk falters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2005 21:17  

  • Perhaps this is just crazytalk, y'know...but it seems to me that if Air America stations are remaining flat, or even gaining (however incrementally) while conservative talk stations are experiencing (in some cases quite dramatic) losses in listenership...it seems to me that probably is a fact in favor of the lib talk format. Lib talk weathers the storm and presses ahead while conservative talk falters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2005 21:17  

  • Perhaps this is just crazytalk, y'know...but it seems to me that if Air America stations are remaining flat, or even gaining (however incrementally) while conservative talk stations are experiencing (in some cases quite dramatic) losses in listenership...it seems to me that probably is a fact in favor of the lib talk format. Some might conclude that lib talk is weathering the storm and pressing ahead while conservative talk falters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2005 21:18  

  • Anon at 13-17:

    To be quite honest, radio listenership is at an all-time low. Most stations are taking a hit because they're losing different people to other medium, such as internet radio, satellite radio, blogs, and other commentary.

    Also, what is not posted are the non-com numbers where the various *PRs [(insert state here) Public Radio] takes away from the Air America audience.

    I'll be very honest, Air America is failing because their target audience does not want to move from NPR. The only exception to this is Portland, Oregon...where the Californicators live.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 22 June, 2005 22:45  

  • I'd like to see these numbers compared to 2003 spring book numbers. Last year was an election year, and a hugely heated one,and thus an anomaly.

    Just a suggestion.

    By Blogger Brian, at 22 June, 2005 23:55  

  • Hi,

    Newbie to your site but have a request. Could you not keep appending to your entries after posting new ones. Rather just make a new post with similar headline - Ratings: Thursday Update

    It is somewhat annoying to have to scroll around to see what's new.

    Thanks!

    -Josh

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23 June, 2005 10:51  

  • Brian, on one paragraph you say

    Air America's flagship station, WLIB in New York City, is still stuck in first gear. It turned in an essentially flat performance in the broadest audience measurement gauge, moving up from a 1.2 to a 1.3 share. That tiny change is considered statistically insignificant.


    and in the same blog entry you write:

    Liberal talker WHAT-AM fell from a 0.6 to a 0.5, now just four notches from last place, in 27th overall.

    My question is whether a .1 move is a drop or a statistically insignificant blip?

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 23 June, 2005 14:38  

  • Dick-

    a .1 drop when you're as low as .6 05 .5 is very important. It means you're that much closer to losing your revenue and, potentially, your format.

    I'm shocked that a smart guy like you didn't pick up on that. Especially what I mentioned before.

    .1 can make or break a station, even a throw away one like What-AM.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 23 June, 2005 16:05  

  • I'll be very honest, Air America is failing because their target audience does not want to move from NPR.

    Well, based on recent events it's now pretty apparent that BushCo and the Republicans are making headway (finally) at tearing apart the nation's public radio and television enterprises. When NPR's out of the picture--or transformed into a cheesy radio version of FOX News)--where do you suppose that "target audience" will go? Not to Rush Limbaugh, that's for sure.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23 June, 2005 16:34  

  • Josh: Sorry about the length of the ratings posts. The reason for doing it this way is because a number of sites link to that particular post each month.

    If I create a new post, then it gets too complicated. Instead, I usually bump the post to the top.

    If I have an especially significant amount of information for a particular city, like Seattle, sometimes I'll write a full piece for that market.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 23 June, 2005 21:17  

  • Radio and Ratings lists WXKS-AM (Boston area) as Adult Standards but that was their format pre- Oct 04. After a couple ratings periods at 0.0 (despite being 5 mi. from downtown Boston) they're now at 0.3, while Framingham based WKOX, also with AAR, goes from 0.0 up to 0.1...in liberal Boston, where as Brian pointed out, conservatalk ('RKO and 'TKK, at least) gets 8.7 combined and AAR gets 0.4 combined.--Bob Nelson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 June, 2005 03:15  

  • Dick, a fair question.

    WLIB's .1 change is less significant because their initial rating is higher. A .1 change in the rating when you're at 1.2 means a 8% change in audience size. (For stations w/ a real audience, like WABC, a .1 rating change is worth 2%)

    For WHAT, which started as 0.6, the 0.1 change represented 16% of the audience.

    By Anonymous SaveFarris, at 24 June, 2005 09:01  

  • Bob, thanks for the correction, you're right, that makes the combined ratings a 0.4 for the two Air America stations.

    It's up to the station's owners to supply updated information about call letters, formats, etc., to Arbitron and radio trade publications. Very rarely do they fail to be right on top of this, but this is one example.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 24 June, 2005 10:58  

  • I live about twenty five miles from Boston and, although I try, I can't get the signal for the Air American Station. When I do, it's due to, it seems, unusual weather conditions and the signal quality is almost unlistenable. I even bought one of those fancy CC Radios without any improvement.

    So I'm not surprised that the Boston station doesn't show up in the ratings. How could it?

    I can BTW hear any of the conservative stations loud and clear including WABC from New York.

    Just something to consider.

    By Anonymous Alex, at 24 June, 2005 11:08  

  • Alex: not sure what part of Boston area you're in other than 25 miles away but WXKS does fairly well in the daytime from Medford and WKOX covers Metrowest and Worcester well. You might be in an area where neither does well. If you're south of town try WHJJ 920 in Providence.

    But when you consider how many people live in Boston/Cambridge/Lynn/Newton/
    Quincy/Peabody/Framingham/Worcester and so many other places, it SHOULD do a lot better.

    Signal problems? WXKS got a 2.4 with adult standards up until October of last year when they plunged after converting to Air America. Maybe it's the programming and not the signal. The true test would be if a WRKO or WTKK were to pick up one or more progressive talk shows. Suppose Boston didn't have a prog. talk station and WRKO decided to run Franken, tape-delayed. Or decided to go for Stephanie Miller instead of John DePetro. Would their ratings remain at 4.9 if they got rid of some or all of the conservative hosts?

    Ask WHJJ, which did just that and plunged in the ratings.--Bob N.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 June, 2005 12:52  

  • Hi Bob,

    I do live south of Boston, but I have been through the city and I can tell you that even then, WKOX-AM 1200 AM is not a good signal.

    You seem to know a lot about these stations; would you tell me how each of them, WRKO, WTKK, WKOX, etc. rate as far as wattage - or however radio stations determine their signal strength.

    That would help me, maybe some others, understand the ratings better. This seems to be an underlying issue that isn't being addressed here.

    I can get the Providence station, WHJJ,(the one who you said suffered the ratings plunge) but that station, in my opinion, is a mess. They have Al Franken, who I like all right, but there's no Morning Sedition, no Majority Report, no Ed Schultz, and no Stephanie Miller. All the best shows they don't have.

    They start the day with Imus in the morning (terrible) and have someone named Arlene Violet (terrible) on after Franken. They're a real patchwork of programing in my opinion.

    WHJJ would do well getting Stephanie Miller. I think her show is the funniest, most entertaining show on radio, and I listen to everything.

    By Anonymous Alex, at 24 June, 2005 15:13  

  • www.radio-locator.com would be a good place to find the wattage of the stations in Boston.

    Something for a potential radio-nut, Mr. Alex. :)

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 24 June, 2005 16:33  

  • Thanks Sailor. I'll give it a look.

    By Anonymous Alex, at 24 June, 2005 16:37  

  • One thing i find interesting about the different talk show programs is the extent to which they incorporate guest bloggers into their programs.

    Some programs on Air America such as the Majority Report have certain regular bloggers appear on their program every week(Daily Kos, Eschaton, and Liberal Oasis).
    Al Franken has on the guy from TalkingPointsMemo each week.

    Hinderocket from Powerline always seems to be on MSNBC and I have noticed he has been on Hugh Hewitt.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 June, 2005 17:40  

  • Great site Sailor. Here's what I found out about the Boston stations:

    Conservative talk WRKO AM broadcasts at 50,000 watts day and night with a 2 pattern directional tower.

    Conservative talk WTKK FM broadcasts at 22,500 watts which must translate to being even more powerful than a AM signal because its coverage map covers most of Massachusetts, most of Rhode Island, into Connecticut and New Hampshire. Plus I know the signal quality where I am is great.

    WBZ AM broadcasts at 50,000 watts day and night. Not sure what programs they have.

    Now we get to Air America's station - WKOX AM. Daytime signal is broadcast at 10,000 watts single direction and nighttime signal at 1,000 watts. Holy cow, 1000 watts, might as well turn it off.

    Now, I'm no genius but how could this not be important when comparing formats this way?

    Personally, I rather listen to a left wing show, but I admit, a lot of times I'll listen to Hannity or Rush just because the sound quality is strong and you don't have to get up every ten minutes, walk around with the Radio trying to find the signal again. Plus they're such ridiculous shills they're good for a few laughs. (No offense people, JMHO)

    Also Air America in New York, WLIB AM, broadcasts at 10,000 watts while it's competition WABC broadcasts at 50,000 watts.

    Just more to consider.

    By Anonymous Alex, at 24 June, 2005 17:44  

  • WOW isn't it funny how when you say:

    "San Diego's conservative KOGO takes another SMALL hit, from a 4.8 to a 4.5."

    and then say:

    "Air America's flagship station, WLIB in New York City is still stuck in first gear. It turned in an essentially flat performance, MOVING UP from a 1.2 to a 1.3 share. "

    In my book 1 step forward is still 1 step forward while 3 step back is well you know.

    Why do you do that ? Are tou trying to be like FOXNEWS --- Fair and UnBalanced.

    By Anonymous mickh, at 24 June, 2005 20:47  

  • Mick-

    Do not try to mess with radio people when you know nothing.

    The .1 increase for WLIB = a lot. Especially in a big market like New York.

    With .3 drop in San Diego, that's substantial, but take a look at the market size and the cume...KOGO can afford the .3 drop, though I know that some of the people at the station are getting a good talking to by the OM.

    Again, I stress: Do not mess with people who know the numbers.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 25 June, 2005 01:01  

  • Bottom Line: Air America's Ratings -->STINK<-- and the liberal media is not reporting that simple fact.

    By Blogger Lidsville, at 25 June, 2005 18:51  

  • Sailor Republica:

    I don't pretend to know radio and quite frankly I don't understand your answer.

    YOU SAID: "The .1 increase for WLIB = a lot. Especially in a big market like New York."

    So you agree with me that a .1 INCREASE in NY is a BIG DEAL.

    and

    AGAIN YOU SAID: "With .3 drop in San Diego, that's substantial."

    Again you agree with my argument which is. Why would Brian say the OPPOSITE.

    FAIR and UNBALANCED

    By Anonymous mickh, at 25 June, 2005 21:28  

  • Wow! I cannot believe Clear Channel would exchange a 2.4 Adult Standards WXKS for a 0.1 Air America. AA Liberal talk is doomed. Who needs it when they have to compete with NPR.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 June, 2005 01:31  

  • Correction:

    0.3 for Air America WXKS.

    NPR receives Federal funds.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 June, 2005 01:46  

  • Yes, WXKS used to get ratings like 2.4 when it was "Music of Your Life". When the format was abandoned for Air America last October, there was a noticeable increase, suddenly, in the ratings of WJIB, a Cambridge-based easy listening station. Wonder why.
    (From 0.4 and 0.5 to 1.1.)

    Radio and records ratings chart only goes back to summer of '04 and it lists a 1.1 for WXKS but I know it had been over 2 at one point. Since then? 0.6; 0.0; 0.0,
    and now 0.3.

    Take the two AAR stations in Boston and combine the ratings. The ratings conservative talker WRKO just got is _almost 12 times as much_ (4.7)--Bob Nelson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 June, 2005 10:19  

  • Brian,

    Is there a website which explains the radio ratings systems. If a small market station has a 5.6 rating and a large market has a 5.6 rating what does that mean? I assume the rating system is a function of how many prospective listeners are out there, so a 5.6 may mean a million listeners in a big market and 100,000 listeners in a small market ?

    By Blogger Freddy, at 26 June, 2005 10:55  

  • FYI, Brian, Boston actually has *three* conservative talk stations. The third is WTTT 1150; here's the radio-locator.com info for it. The list you're using still shows 1150's previous call letters and format, though I believe the current format has been in place for a while now.

    By Anonymous Mike, at 26 June, 2005 14:28  

  • yes WTTT has shows like Michael Medved, Mike Gallagher, and Dennis Prager and doesn't really show up in the 12 + ratings.--Bob N.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 June, 2005 14:57  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 26 June, 2005 15:00  

  • You're right, Mick. I did make a mistake when I wrote what I did. Here's what I was going to say, when I got sidetracked by something a lot more important (Stuff involving my car getting impounded).

    A .1 increase means very little in ratings, and a lot when it comes to ad revenue. Basically, they should be going up by at least .3 to .4 per book if they're doing the job. They are not.

    As for San Diego, the .3 drop is insignificant because they have the capital to spend. Also, their cume and ad revenue are up despite the .3 drop, as is typical in San Diego.

    Now, please, drop the attitude and admit your place at my feet when it comes to radio numbers.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 26 June, 2005 15:05  

  • YOU SAID:

    I got sidetracked by something a lot more important (Stuff involving my car getting impounded).

    Start parking your car LEGALLY and you won't have to come up with lame excuses for your stupid posts.

    As I said 1 step forward is MUCH BETTER that 3 steps backwards regardless the amount of money you have to spend.

    By Anonymous mickh, at 26 June, 2005 18:24  

  • Has Franken started drawing a salary yet? Is AAR still paying stations to air their content?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 June, 2005 22:07  

  • Mick -

    Simply put, a .1 in a market puts HEADS ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK!

    It doesn't matter if it's a step forward for the guy who is getting a pink slip the next day because of slipping numbers.

    THAT is your problem. You do not see the minute impact that very slow gains, even a year or more after a format has started, have on the personnel of these stations.

    +.1 is not always better than -.3, especially for a small station, and epecially if the people's jobs are on the line.

    Looks to me like YOU want people to get fired. Ass.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 27 June, 2005 10:23  

  • Aren't the ratings system suppose to be comparable between markets?

    I would be interested in reading an unbiased post regarding the rating system. I would imagine a 10% increase may be viewed equally favorable in a large market or a small market. Ultimately it is about return on investment.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 June, 2005 12:28  

  • ktlk is out of santa barbara and they preempt air america broadcasts to carry semi-pro baseball.

    By Anonymous p2, at 30 June, 2005 00:09  

  • Anonymous wrote: "Well, based on recent events it's now pretty apparent that BushCo and the Republicans are making headway (finally) at tearing apart the nation's public radio and television enterprises. When NPR's out of the picture--or transformed into a cheesy radio version of FOX News)--where do you suppose that "target audience" will go? Not to Rush Limbaugh, that's for sure."

    Well, here's something I don't understand: Why should NPR, PBS or any other left-leaning network feel entitled to receive any portion of my tax money? Would you enjoy subsidizing Rush Limbaugh?

    Of course not, so why do you think NPR deserves tax money ... just because "we've always done it that way"?

    I say, make 'em earn their keep -- and if they can't generate the audience, they can try another format. Sorry, but I just don't see why radio stations -- or artists, for that matter -- get to rely on portions of our paychecks, whereas most other businesses have to succeed in the free market.

    -- TheFourthEstate

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 July, 2005 02:09  

  • You are right - why should pro-Democratic NPR and PBS be supported by taxpayer dollars? And by the way, if that upsets you, contact the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which is finally doing something about this. After all, it's not about "liberal" bias, it's a bias in favor of Democrats and against Republicans.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 July, 2005 15:38  

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