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An In-Depth Look At Chicago's November Radio Ratings From Arbitron

The Arbitron ratings for the Chicago radio market for the "November" period (10/14/10-11/10/10) were released yesterday. The following is an in-depth study of those statistics, including looks at the all ages numbers, the 25-54 demographic, the 18-34 demographic, daypart races and key stories.

In the all ages/all day ratings numbers, the top stations remained in the basically the same order as last month, with some minor differences. WBBM-AM is again #1, with its share holding strong at 6.2. News about the elections at the start of this month and weekend Bears broadcasts kept listeners coming back in droves. Also seeing increases thanks to election news & commentary was WLS-AM & WGN-AM. WLS-AM remained in fourth place, but its share increased by .7 to a 5.0 total. WGN-AM moved back to a tie for second place with WVAZ-FM with a 5.1 share. WDRV-FM/WWDV-FM saw a .6 increase, propelling them back up to fifth place with a 4.3 share. WTMX-FM comes in at #6 with a 3.9 share. WGCI-FM, WOJO-FM & WUSN-FM tie for seventh place with a 3.7 share each. Right behind them, WBBM-FM & WLIT-FM tie for tenth place with a 3.6 share.

There are two notable declines to mention. The first is a seemingly minor decline by WGCI-FM who fell from a 4.1 share to a 3.7 share. However, when looking at a few months of rating shares, WGCI-FM has steadily been dropping a small bit for the last few months, losing almost an entire share in just 4 months time. They are still a Top 10 station and drawing a large audience, so it is by no means time to hit the panic button, but the steady decline seems to be worsening and should be kept an eye on. Even evenings & weekends, which used to be the station's strongest time periods, have seen big decreases.

The other notable decline belongs to WLEY-FM who seemed to have suddenly lost some of the nice momentum they had been building up over the last few months. WLEY-FM went from a large 2.8 share in October's ratings to a 2.0 share in November, dropping them down to a 20th place tie with WJMK-FM (which is another slowly declining station -- but more on that later).

The Morning Drive daypart of 6:00am-10:00am saw some changes in the last month. News & information remained Chicagons top choice as always, but there was especially a need for it due to the elections. WLS-AM took over as the top morning show in the all ages numbers, raising up to a 7.8 share. WBBM-AM remains strong, but dropped just .1, down to a 7.7 share, giving them second place. WGN-AM saw an increase, as well, climbing up to a 7.4 share and third place. The top FM morning show remains WTMX-FM's Eric & Kathy, who again come fourth place with a 5.8 share. WLEY-FM's morning show dropped from fifth place last period, down to a tie for 14th, this period. It seems many of those listeners returned to WOJO-FM who took fifth place back with a 3.9 share.

For the Midday daypart of 10:00am-3:00pm in the all ages numbers, WLS-AM skyrocketed up to #1 with a 6.1 share, thanks largely to voter's interest on Rush Limbaugh's take on the elections, but also due to the last hour of Cisco Cotto's show and the strong first hour of the "Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper." Those not wanting to hear election talk seemed to have turned to WDRV-FM/WWDV-FM for classic rock & roll, along with rock knowledge from Bob Stroud. The Drive had a 5.8 share, making it #2. For Middays, WBBM-AM came in third, WGN-AM in fourth and WOJO-FM in fifth.

In the Afternoon Drive daypart of 3:00pm-7:00pm, WBBM-AM returned as #1 with a 5.3 share. WVAZ-FM was again at #2 with a 5.0 share. WGN-AM takes third, WDRV-FM/WWDV-FM takes fourth, and WUSN-FM jumps up to fifth place.

WLS-AM's afternoon show featuring Roe Conn and Richard Roeper has seen a 105% increase in AQH for the months of September/October/November, compared to the same three month period last year. These were the months that WLS-AM management have been gearing up for since they took over at the start of this year. With a heavy amount of advertising decisions for next year being generated based on those end of year numbers, these high ratings are coming at a perfect time for the station. The April addition of Richard Roeper to the show, along with other positive changes made by management this year, are now paying off, just as they were designed to do.

The Evening daypart of 7:00pm-Midnight no longer has the Clear Channel Chicago one-two punch of Urban programming, WVAZ-FM & WGCI-FM. WVAZ-FM is still #1, but WGCI-FM has fallen to #5 in the November period. WBBM-AM moved to #2, WLS-AM moved up to #3, and WKSC-FM remains at #4.


Looking now at the 25-54 demographic, the highly desired range for many advertisers, and thus, most radio station owners. For many, these ratings mean more than any of the other demographics, including, and sometimes especially, the all ages numbers.

For the last few months, this website has been telling readers to keep an eye on WILV-FM. The station known as Rewind 100.3 has been growing steadily over the last few months ever since it re-branded itself at the start of June. A team of live & local veteran personalities, subtle music tweaks and a well-done ad campaign made the station Chicago's Adult Contemporary leader in October's ratings for the 25-54 demo. For these November ratings, WILV-FM becomes one of Chicago radio's leaders, regardless of format, as it moves into the Top 5 of the coveted demo. This leap forward by WILV-FM now places all three of the Bonneville-owned Chicago radio stations into the Top 5 -- an incredible feat by arguably the best run radio corporation in town.

Bonneville's WDRV-FM/WWDV-FM is returns to the #1 overall spot, with a 5.6 share. Bonneville's WTMX-FM is tied for #2 and WILV-FM is tied for #5. WVAZ-FM is the other station tied at #2 and WBBM-AM is the other station tied at #5. In between all of those is WOJO-FM at #4.

The other non-Bonneville-owned stations in the race for the hearts and ears of the Adult Contemporary audience find themselves looking for ways to try and catch up to WILV-FM. WLIT-FM comes in at #9, while WCFS-FM remains down in the dumps at #24. WLIT-FM's saving grace is their flip to "The Holiday Lite," which has traditionally been a ratings winning stunt for them for the last decade. The all-holiday music switch came right after the November ratings period ended. It is expected that the "December" and "Holiday" ratings periods will be excellent ones for WLIT-FM, especially since it appears they will have little or no competition in the holiday music broadcasting until it gets much closer to Christmas. As for WCFS-FM, they continue to try and force a personality-vacant formula on Chicago's airwaves that just will not catch on. Despite having a few programmers come and go and many talented DJs come and go (and remain), the concept of having the personalities talk minimally and not connect with the audience continues to fail.

Here is how the top of the Persons 25-54 rankings looked for the last ratings period:

Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight:
      1 WDRV-FM
      2t WTMX-FM
      2t WVAZ-FM
      4 WOJO-FM
      5t WILV-FM
      5t WBBM-AM
      7 WGCI-FM
      8 WUSN-FM
      9 WLIT-FM
      10 WLS-FM
      11 WXRT-FM
      12 WBBM-FM
      13 WLUP-FM
      14 WLEY-FM
      15 WBEZ-FM
      16t WLS-AM
      16t WSCR-AM
      16t WKSC-FM
      19t WKQX-FM
      19t WGN-AM
      19t WJMK-FM

The cume rankings show a slightly different story. Here is the Top 10 rankings for station cume:
      1 WTMX-FM
      2 WBBM-FM
      3 WKSC-FM
      4 WLIT-FM
      5 WBBM-AM
      6 WILV-FM
      7 WDRV-FM
      8 WJMK-FM
      9 WCFS-FM
      10 WLS-FM

No means a surprise, the winner for the busy Morning Drive radio race is none other than WTMX-FM's super-popular "Eric & Kathy Morning Show," bringing in a giant 8.3 share of the listening audience. The loss of newsman Mark Suppelsa has not hurt the show's ratings at all, as Brian Paruch has filled his shoes nicely and the show's fans continue to make the program part of their morning ritual.

Second place for Morning Drive belongs to Pat Cassidy & Felicia Middlebrooks and the WBBM-AM morning news crew, bringing in a 5.4 share. WDRV-FM takes the #3 spot, WBEZ-FM is in the #4 spot, and WOJO-FM comes in at #5.

Middays has WDRV-FM/WWDV-FM retaining their #1 role, where it has been for quite a few months now, as fans really enjoy being part of the Stroud Crowd. As it was last month, WOJO-FM is #2 in Middays and WILV-FM is #3. WVAZ-FM moves up into fourth place and WTMX-FM settles into fifth.

In the Afternoon Drive time slot, WDRV-FM has driven back into first place with a 5.6 share. WVAZ-FM is #2 with a 5.0 share. WTMX-FM, WILV-FM & WGCI-FM are third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

For Evenings, Clear Channel's stations rule the Chicago airwaves. WVAZ-FM is #1 yet again. Sister-station WGCI-FM falls down to #3, while sister-station WLIT-FM, with the syndicated Delilah show, moves up to #2. Another Clear Channel station, WKSC-FM comes in at #5. The only non-Clear Channel station at the top is the Univision-owned WOJO-FM, which came in at #4.

The Weekend ratings (Saturday & Sunday, 6:00am-Midnight) have not changed dramatically from the previous months, with the big difference being WBBM-AM moving up to second place, thanks largely to monster ratings for the "Monsters of the Midway" broadcasts, and WGCI-FM slipping down to #9. First place on weekends is again WVAZ-FM, followed by WBBM-AM, WOJO-FM and WLIT-FM.

One station to keep an eye on is WJMK-FM. The CBS-owned "Jack-FM" station has done very decent numbers for a very long time, especially in the 25-54 demographic, despite having no DJs (live, pre-recorded, or otherwise) playing music since the station debuted. However, the station has been in a steady decline for the last few months. Fans of older music seem to be turning to WDRV-FM, WLS-FM and to some extent, WXRT-FM. (I would normally add WLUP-FM to that list, but their ratings are not much better, and after having a nice increase in October, are back to falling downward.) WJMK-FM's highest ranking comes in the Morning & Midday hours, where it was able to squeak out a #13 and #14 ranking. Nights & weekends are in the 20's and only a 2.2 share.

CBS Radio has been killing off all of their "Jack" stations nationwide. They now have only five of these jockless Classic Hits stations remaining. With this fad format seemingly run its course and WJMK's numbers sinking month after month, one has to wonder how much longer Chicago will have a "Jack" station.

All of CBS' Chicago radio stations are successful both in ratings and billings, with the obvious exceptions of WJMK-FM and the already-mentioned WCFS-FM. Could a simulcast of one of CBS' two AM stations be coming to FM soon, while the company tries to decide on what to do next with the frequencies? While some have suggested simulcasting sports-talk WSCR-AM on an FM frequency, CBS Radio has been focusing instead on simulcasting their AM news stations on FM. Two years ago in San Fransisco, which is Market #4, CBS dropped its Classic Hits station and began simulcasting KCBS-AM on 106.9 FM. The results have been excellent for the company, with increased listener numbers and advertiser support. Even though WBBM-AM does fantastic numbers currently and has a very strong, clear AM signal, adding an FM simulcast could only increase its ability to reach audiences, especially in the 25-54 demographic. It could make their news/traffic/weather & Chicago Bears programming more valuable to advertisers -- much more so than sports talk could do.


Now, here is a look at the younger side of the Arbitron ratings for the Chicago radio market for the "November" period... this time the 18-34 demographic.

WBBM-FM is once again #1 in this, their target demographic. This makes three out of the last four months the CBS-owned CHR station has achieved this rank. WBBM-FM takes the top spot with a 6.7 overall average share. WOJO-FM, which has been #1 a couple of times already this year, but has also had a roller coaster ride up & down the top of the rankings, moves back up to the #2 spot with a 6.5 share. Rivals WKSC-FM & WGCI-FM both gained 6.1 shares in November, earning them a third place tie.

The Top rankings for the November ratings period for the Persons 18-34 demographic in the Chicago market look like this:

Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight:
      1 WBBM-FM
      2 WOJO-FM
      3t WGCI-FM
      3t WKSC-FM
      5 WVAZ-FM
      6 WTMX-FM
      7 WDRV-FM
      8 WKQX-FM
      9 WLEY-FM
      10 WPPN-FM
      11 WXRT-FM
      12t WUSN-FM
      12t WNUA-FM
      14 WCFS-FM
      15 WPWX-FM

The top morning show belongs to WOJO-FM's syndicated star Eddie Sotelo, aka El Piolin, who has a 7.2 share of the morning audience. WBBM-FM's J Niice & Julian come in a close second with a 7.1 share. WTMX-FM is in third place and WGCI-FM comes in fourth. WKQX-FM & WDRV-FM tie for fifth place in mornings. Former demographic leader in mornings, WKSC-FM now comes in ninth place.

WOJO-FM is also the leader (by far) in Middays. WKSC-FM takes the #1 position in afternoons and evenings, while WBBM-FM is the #1 choice on weekends.


Didn't see your favorite station mentioned in any of the discussions above? Ask a question on the message board and we'll find out where they are in the latest Arbitron ratings.

Ratings data © Copyright 2010 Arbitron Inc.
May not be quoted or reproduced without prior written permission from Arbitron.
The PPM ratings are based on audience estimates, and are the opinion of Arbitron and should not be relied on for precise accuracy or precise representativeness of a demographic or radio market.

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