Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ratings Roundup Fall 2006: Part 5

For the last of this series of Arbitron ratings reports for liberal talk radio stations across the country, we arrive in the Northeast. This one will take a look at the upper East Coast.

In New York, WWRL finally makes an appearance in its first ratings book since becoming the new flagship for Air America. Whereas the signal-challenged station rarely appeared in the rankings prior to the September flip, they now come on with a 0.8 share, tied for 26th place. WWRL also makes a first-time showing in other regional books, garnering a 0.7 share in Long Island (market #18), where they only have a partial presence, and 0.5 in Middlesex, NJ (market #39). Meanwhile, WLIB, now airing a gospel music format, drops from a 1.0 to a 0.5 share in New York City. They did not show up in other regional market surveys, where they have done well under its previous format. All in all, considering the station switch and signal limitations, WWRL did not do too badly, as they beat a few 50,000 watt stations and are even competitive with stronger, higher-profile FM stations like WFNY, airing CBS Radio's expensive "Free FM" talk format.

Upstate, in Buffalo/Niagara Falls (#52), little WHLD maintained a mid-share figure for its last ratings book before its recent flip to gospel music. Since picking up Air America and other liberal talk programming, the station has gone from a perrenial no-show to actually making a dent in the ratings book. Its final number was a 0.5. Entercom-owned rival WWKB finished just a tenth of a point ahead, with a 0.6, down from a 1.0 in the Summer. WWKB appears to be a rather neglected station, with a neglected website and a midday show rerun in the evening hours. Perhaps with WHLD's dropping of Air America, WWKB will have some new programming options. The station does have a fairly strong signal, and could be a success if they figured out how to utilize it properly. To the east, WWKB's sister station WROC in nearby Rochester (#53) made a pretty big jump, rising from a 0.9 to a 1.3, good for 15th place overall. The Arbitron book for Ithaca (#283) has been embargoed, meaning that overall ratings are not available to the public, so there's no word on how WNYY did in that market as of yet. They flipped from oldies to progressive talk last June.

In Boston (#11), the two weak signals of WKOX and WXKS maintained a half share with their recently-dropped progressive talk format. The current ratings for Central Massachusetts' trimulcast of WHMP are unknown in the Springfield (#84) ratings, since the book is under an embargo by Arbitron. In the last available ratings, from one year ago, the station held a 1.6 share, making it the #2 talk station in the market. WAVZ in New Haven (#109), armed with a weak signal and little support from owner Clear Channel, did not register overall in the current ratings book. The station switched to ESPN Radio last week. And WLVP in Portland, ME (#167) drops slightly for the fall, down from a 0.9 to 0.6 share.

Pittsburgh (#24) is the home of two Air America Radio affiliates. The stronger, more established suburban rimshot WPTT, which carries Thom Hartmann, local liberal talker Lynn Cullen and an assortment of other talkers from various sides of the political spectrum, comes in at a 1.2 share. WPTT has recently gotten the go-ahead from the FCC to swap dial positions soon, moving from 1360AM to 910AM, which will give them a stronger daytime signal, though they will cease nighttime broadcasting as a trade-off. WURP, one of Air America's newest affiliates, is a no-show in the book, mostly due to a very tiny predominantly daytime signal that doesn't really get cover much area (at night, they power down from 1000 watts to a measly 4 watts). They have a construction permit pending that will double the daytime power and move the transmitter into the city, which will give the urban areas of Pittsburgh 12 watts at night. The station has long carried The Young Turks, and recently picked up Air America programming for weekends. During the week, they run 'hot talk' personalities such as Don and Mike and Tom Leykis, as well as G. Gordon Liddy.

And finally, this analysis consists mostly of the overall numbers, ages 12+ for all time periods 6AM-Midnight, since these are the only numbers that Arbitron officially releases to the public. Therefore, these numbers do not give any substantial information in regard to daypart, age and gender breakdowns, which are highly coveted by advertisers looking to target specific audiences. Occasionally, more specific information does seep through, such as a statement on Hartmann's website, claiming that his show enjoyed massive increases in listenership in several markets, including WPTT Pittsburgh, with a 100% increase, KPHX Phoenix up 186%, KTNF Minneapolis-St. Paul up 120%, KQKE San Francisco up 100% and his hometown of Grand Rapids, where WTKG is up 114%.

The next series of Arbitron ratings reports will be coming in late March, which will take into account the ratings for this Winter.


raccoonradio said...

I saw the ratings for the Burlington/Plattsburgh market (12 +)
via but I get the feeling not all stations are subscribers. Daytimer WTWK 1070 (prog talk) wasn't listed but neither was
conservatalker WVMT 620

Jill said...

Perhaps the next time Rennie Bishop decides to "punish" Sam Seder for speaking the truth about Armstrong Williams, he might want to think about how AAR is helping his ratings.

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