The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

25 July 2005

Ratings For DC, Sacto, Phoenix, St Louis

Talk Strong In Phoenix

Huge Ratings Drops in DC, Sacramento

How's the spring talk radio ratings picture shaping up?

Quite clearly: some properly-managed conservative stations are holding up well, while others are greatly suffering, with agonizing mistakes going uncorrected.

Liberal talk still isn't taking off, even if there are faint signs of life, giving leftists false hope for the format's future.

Not exactly a work of art, is it?

The crisis continues at Washington DC's WMAL, where the ABC talker plunges from a 3.6 to a 2.9, now in 13th place among all listeners ages 12 and older.

Once a powerhouse, WMAL has languished along with ABC's other stations, all reportedly for sale. Late last week, it emerged that three companies have placed "underwhelming" bids for ABC's radio division.

This is said to be WMAL's worst-ever ratings book.

It peaked at a 4.4 last year and the bleeding just hasn't stopped since. In morning drive, it's in 19th place for the key 25-54 demographic, meaning major advertisers would expect to take a pass.

So far, no programming changes despite the horrendous numbers, but ABC can't afford to wait before cleaning house.

DCRTV, a Beltway media watchdog site, has many more details.

Air America's WWRC-AM takes last place with a 0.4.

In Phoenix, conservative talk
radio is in good shape, with Clear Channel's KFYI holding third place with a flat performance, a 5.2 share. This is the area's Limbaugh station.

Rival KTAR, with a recent ownership change, takes eighth with a slight drop from a 4.1 to a 3.9 audience share.

Beyond that, the region has a number of tiny talkers. Air America's KXXT rose from a 0.8 to a 1.1, good for 23rd. Several other stations came in around this level, or slightly lower.

Talk radio in The Valley Of The Sun, the nation's 15th-largest market, is competitive and quirky.

In St. Louis (market #18), market mainstay KMOX surged two full shares, to lock in first place. Baseball helps KMOX a great deal, but where the games will air next season is still unknown.

Rival KTRS, not helped by the lack of hockey games this season, fell while FM talker KFTK tanked, sliding from a 3.4 to a 2.3.

STL Media, run by industry vet Mike Anderson, does a fantastic job covering radio developments in the area, as well as nationwide.

What's going on at Sacramento's KFBK? After peaking last summer with a 9.3, Limbaugh's former home base has fallen to a 6.8 share.

It's still in first place, as always, but now appears vulnerable in ways never previously thought possible. It's long been a stable ratings winner, commonly with showings in the nine to 11-share range.

Anybody in Sacramento with a theory on KFBK's problem?

Sister station KSTE rises from a 3.6 to a 4.1, while Air America's KSAC is stuck in neutral, with a 1.6 share on that frequency last year, now dropping to a 1.1.

More figures to come this week, ratings data from Radio & Records. Please support our advertisers!


  • Any word about Washington state?

    Had to ask.

    By Blogger Josef, at 25 July, 2005 22:51  

  • Not until later in the week. Don't worry, it will be highlighted here!

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 25 July, 2005 23:19  

  • Got anything for either the Labor City (Minneapolis, MN) or Moscow on the Willamette (Portland, OR)?

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 26 July, 2005 00:31  

  • KFYI has STRONG talent, that's why they do quite well.

    Two different guys in the morning, Bruce Jacobs and (mind blank), then Rush, Hannity, followed by a strong local show, Liddy and Hill. It is a terrific talk station, the best I have heard anywhere.

    By Blogger Brian, at 26 July, 2005 01:49  

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    By Blogger PimpPia, at 26 July, 2005 02:56  

  • Any news on Pittsburgh or Cleveland?

    They just put Springer on WTAM, I would be interested if he has tanked.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 July, 2005 10:31  

  • Brian: I'd be curious if you know anything about the management of Sacramento's Clear Channel KSTE which you mentioned above and why they still broadcast CNN radio news.

    Supposedly the Clear Channel talk stations signed a deal to carry Fox News radio. KNEW San Francisco finally switched to Fox News around the clock last week but KSTE continues with CNN News, which is a mismatch to a station that features Hannity and Savage. BTW, I assume that market leader KFBK will stick with ABC News, which they have carried for many years.

    Another station that arouses my curiosity is KDWN, Las Vegas. It is a 50,000- watt blowtorch that can be heard at night all over the West Coast. But the talk show hosts don't use call screeners and Mark Edwards, who hosts the nightly "Wake Up America" show that deals with illegal immigration, did not accompany other similar talk show hosts to Washington in April, probably because the station is too cheap!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 July, 2005 11:39  

  • In Phoenix, as with other markets, the entire AAR lineup is not being carried. You can check here: Cleveland is only carrying Springer. It would be an interesting exercise to Google all the affiliates listed on AAR's website and see just how much of AAR's programs each carries. I have noticed, in the little research I have done, that there is a direct parallel to less AAR content translating to higher ratings.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 July, 2005 14:21  

  • WWTQ dropping Randi Rhodes for Leon Gray (local libby host):

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 July, 2005 16:10  

  • I asked you for more analysis of WMAL before. I remember WMAL being a powerhouse 20 years ago with lots of local hosts (Harden and Weaver, Trumble and Core, Ken Beatrice (sports), Felix Grant (jazz!)), etc. I even heard people say that "Washington is a different radio town than any other...because of WMAL". What happened? (Market change, competition, WMAL decisions)?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 July, 2005 09:01  

  • TCO: Looks like Brian has gone on to bigger and better things like covering Air America stealing from the poor!

    I also lived in Washington DC when Harden and Weaver would play marching music every morning and I am also curious how they evolved into a conservative talk station in an extremely liberal area.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 July, 2005 12:06  

  • Regarding Sacramento -

    The local Salem talker (KTKZ 1380AM) is carrying the local AAA baseball team (Sacramento RiverCats) broadcasts. Has that affected things, such as what occurred with KMOX? Are the ratings books separated out by dayparts along with demos?

    KTKZ has also been trying to forge itself an identity as the "official" Arnold Schwarzenegger station, especially in morning drive under PD/host Eric Hogue, and that may be putting a dent in some of KFBK's standing.

    Also, let's face it. Rush just ain't what he used to be. There's too many national guys and gals who compete in his time slot that do things similar but different (O'Reilly, Ingraham, Prager, etc.) to keep his once-dominant position. There are a lot of stations who depend on Rush to carry the load - and he is less able to do so nowadays.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 July, 2005 20:30  

  • I'm so frigging sick of talk radio. I don't get that much intellectual content on it. I would pay for sirius if they had something like bill buckley on it. or even just documentaries and mckneil lehrer stuff. Basically NPR without the breathy effeminate middlebrow pseudosophistication.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 July, 2005 22:19  

  • Re: Sacramento talkers - I've noticed that conservative talk can now be found on stations that were/are primarily other formats.

    For example, I just ran across a Christian station (KFIA, 710) with a good evening drive time talk show and there is another Christian station that I ran across that has done the same (can't remember call or frequency). A station that seemed to only run infomercials (K???, 860) now has Tony Snow's show live. KNEW (910) has switched from country to general talk to, now, conservative talk. Finally, KSTE @ 1220 has upped it's game in conservative talk shows.

    I think that these newcommers draw off some listeners from the perennial big stations. In other words, the pie is being sliced with smaller pieces faster than it is growing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 July, 2005 18:52  

  • Take a look at Memphis ratings. WWTQ has taken the 680 frequency to the lowest recorded level ever.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03 August, 2005 19:49  

  • I believe the reason KFBK is slipping is because it's management has gone liberal. They fired Mark Williams who was one of the top Talk earners for their station in favor of a much less controversial Bruce Maiman, a liberal. With the exception of "Rush" in daytime syndication, they have opted for less controversial programming. The net result is their evening listenership has drastically fallen off.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 March, 2009 19:33  

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