The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

29 April 2008

New Ratings Show Weak Don Imus Performance


Imus Drops, Spin Machine Activated, Rush & Sean Strong

While new ratings figures show Don Imus dragging down WABC/ New York's overall performance, the media spin machine has been activated in an attempt to contain the damage.

Meanwhile, they'd rather not talk about the comparative strength of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the very same station.

Since his high- profile move to WABC from WFAN after the infamous "nappy-headed hos" flap of 2007, the I-Man has underperformed his predecessors by 17% overall and 8% in the key 25-54 listener demographic.

His morning show is now ranked a whopping eighteenth overall in the competitive New York City market, hardly enough to justify his megadeal with financially- struggling Citadel - ABC Radio. In the 25-54 demo, he's in twentieth place.

The truth couldn't be clearer: WABC was better off with Curtis & Kuby, while WFAN should be thrilled to see its post- Imus programming outperform the aging crustmeister.

At the same time, WABC's Rush Limbaugh turned in a strong 3.5 share (25-54) against Don's 2.2. Sean Hannity also topped Imus with a 2.8.

But the facts didn't stop the New York Daily News from activating its pro- Imus spin machine, cranking the knob all the way to "11":

Don Imus tops old ratings; Luis Jimenez up


Don Imus' return didn't end up reshuffling radio ratings too much, but Luis Jimenez's sure did.

The January-March winter Arbitron ratings, released Monday, include the first official numbers for Imus' well-chronicled switch to mornings at WABC (770 AM) and Jimenez's debut on WCAA (105.9 FM).

Imus' overall numbers were a little higher than he used to get on WFAN (660 AM) and a tick lower than his predecessors Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby had been getting on WABC.

WFAN's new team of Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton, who now give the all-sports station a sports-oriented morning show, scored slightly better than Imus scored on WFAN last winter.

But at Crain's New York Business, Matthew Flamm presents a far more accurate picture:

Don Imus struggles to recoup ratings

WABC-AM's Imus in the Morning has a 1.5 audience share among persons aged 25 to 54, a 17% drop from the same time slot last year.

By: Matthew Flamm

Don Imus may have a job, but he’s not exactly setting the world on fire.

The latest iteration of Imus in the Morning, which debuted on WABC-AM in December, was ranked 20th among persons aged 25 to 54, according to the winter survey from Arbitron.

The show’s 1.5 share of that audience represented a 17% drop from last year, when Curtis & Kuby held the morning slot and were tied for 18th place in the demo.

Among men 25 to 54 years old, Mr. Imus’s show ranked 18th—down from 16th a year ago—with a 2.2 share, which was 8% below Curtis & Kuby’s number.

He’s also trailing his numbers from last year when he was heard on all-sports WFAN-AM. The shock jock left the CBS Radio-owned station following an uproar over comments he made about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

Newcomer Boomer & Carton, which debuted in September on WFAN, surged to fifth place among men 25 to 54 years old, the station’s target audience. A year ago, Mr. Imus’ morning drive show was in 11th place.

WFAN’s new show, hosted by football great Boomer Esiason and former Jersey shock jock Craig Carton, garnered a 4.3 share in the demo, up 48% from the same period last year. The Arbitron winter survey runs from January 10 to April 2.

A 48% gain is "slightly better" than Imus's WFAN results? Who are we kidding?

At the New York Radio Message Board, meanwhile, contributors are not so willing to do Don's bidding.

Your Radio Equalizer is left with two questions: why aren't we hearing about Limbaugh and Hannity's strong results? And why is the New York Daily News so inclined to suck up to Citadel- ABC management? What do they have to gain from propping up Don Imus?

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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  • What about Mark Levin? He said on the air today that he scored around a 5 share, number one in NYC.

    By Anonymous Bodero, at 29 April, 2008 18:59  

  • As a NYC resident and radio junkie, I immediately changed my "set" stations when Imus showed up.

    Now, with Gambling coming back, WABC has pretty much finally lost me while the sun is up.

    By Blogger TC, at 30 April, 2008 12:25  

  • I listened to Curtis and Kuby for a long time. The mix was just old fashioned good radio. Warner Wolf as well. Imus? Can't understand a word or a point he tries to make. Gambling was great as well. WABC Screwed up. Now, I listen to the Z morning Zoo. Sorry, Curtis and Kuby made me laugh. Imus does not. On to the "Zoo"!

    By Anonymous Arundel, at 30 April, 2008 19:53  

  • I love listening to the IMAN! Bring him back!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 June, 2008 18:47  

  • Wouls switch to Imus in a NY minute but now live in Florida and do not get him there. Have to listen online.

    That is one reason his ratings might be down, we can't find him?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 September, 2008 10:20  

  • No one can find him! His ratings would grow if we could catch him! This presidential race isn't the same without his 2 cents! I miss his friend Tim Russert too!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16 October, 2008 20:57  

  • I agree strongly with the previous post-Presidential race is not the same, without Iman's input. Curious as to whether or not he has remained loyal in supporting McCain, who has changed his views on many issues 180 degrees since 2000. If Iman has continued his support of the sinking maverick & the unqualified Parah Salin, then he certainly has not shown me any open-mindedness, since his firing a while back. Have ya been able to change any, Iman?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 30 October, 2008 23:40  

  • Give him time. He's a survivor. Of cancer. Sharpton. Looks. Hell - ratings are nothing.
    Give the I-man a few more months - let people know he's back - and he'll climb. He's the best content on the air.

    By Blogger Let's open doors. Explore, at 30 October, 2009 10:52  

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