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A Look At Chicago's January 2013 Radio Ratings From Arbitron

The Arbitron ratings for the Chicago radio market for the January period -- which covers the dates of 01/03/13-01/30/13 -- were released on Monday. The following is a study of the local ratings for the demographics of Persons 6+ (All Ages), Persons 25-54, and Persons 18-34, along with quick looks at some key stories.

Looking first at the all ages (6+) numbers...

The big story for the December and "Holiday" periods of Arbitron's is always the ratings dominance of WLIT-FM's "Holiday Lite." With the holidays fully over in this January period, the ratings picture returns more toward normal. WLIT-FM's mighty ratings quickly fell away. Making huge gains, though were WTMX-FM and WUSN-FM. Also, WVAZ-FM and WNUA-FM defied the patterns of most stations and increased ratings through the holiday months and continued to grow even more through January.

Reclaiming the #1 spot from WLIT-FM in January was WVAZ-FM/V103. The station now has a commanding 6.2 share, a 1.3 share ahead of its closest competitor. For comparison's sake, last January, V103 had a 4.4 share and was happy to be #4.

That closest competitor coming in at #2 is WBBM-AM (simulcast on WCFS-FM). The local news station came in with a 4.9 share. Unfortunately, from the station's election-time high of a 5.5 share, it has seen a steady decline in share since then, with losses each month.

The #3 station is the incredibly surging WTMX-FM/Mix 101.9. Not only did the station reclaim all of the listeners it lost to the holiday music, it increased listeners to the highest number in eight months. The Mix now has a share of 4.8, a .9 increase over the previous month.

WGN-AM saw in increase of .3 share, up to a 4.5, making it #4 for the month. This is thanks in part to a great deal of interest generated by a revamped personality line-up, as well as broadcasts of the extremely popular Chicago Blackhawks games, which began later in the month.

Much like WTMX-FM did, WUSN-FM/US99.5 reclaimed all of the listeners it lost during the holiday months, rebounding back up to #4 with a 4.0 share -- the same share they had in the November period. In the last ratings period, the station had fallen to a low of a 3.4 share, the lowest audience share it had in over a year.

As was the case since the October ratings period, Chicago's Hispanic-targeted radio stations continue to show great strength. For the first time ever, the new leader of that pack is none other than WNUA-FM/El Patron 95.5. WNUA-FM has soared up to #5 with a 3.7 share -- a huge 1.1 share increase since the November ratings period. The station has struggled since it first flipped from a Smooth Jazz station in May 2009 to a Spanish-language station. Beginning as a Hispanic CHR station named Mega 95.5, it then changed to more of a Hispanic AC station, until this past June, when Clear Channel flipped it to a Regional Mexican station, branded as El Patron 95.5. Along the way was numerous on-air and staff changes. It would appear that after years of trying, Clear Channel finally has a hit Hispanic station in Chicago.

Although not quite in the Top 10 yet, one station extremely happy with yesterday's ratings results is WSCR-AM. 670 The Score earned an all ages demographic all-time high share of 3.4 in January, giving the sports talker a ranking of #11. It may be only a matter of weeks before it finally breaks in to the Top 10.

The biggest drop of the month was an expected one. It belonged to WLIT-FM/93.9 Lite FM. Right after the Christmas music format known as "The Holiday Lite" went away, so did the majority of those listeners. During the Holiday ratings period, WLIT-FM had a high of a 10.0 share. For the January period, WLIT-FM tumbled down from #1 to a tie at #13 with only a 3.2 share. Traditionally that number will fall even more in February. Last January, the station only fell to a 4.0 share, making this January a much tougher one for the AC station.

Traditionally, the all ages demographic have been the best one for Cumulus-owned sister-stations WLS-AM and WLS-FM, even when the numbers were not as good in other, more specific demographics. Both were Top 10 stations, and in some months, Top 5. Now, even in the all ages numbers, the stations are falling fast, well out of the Top 10. WLS-AM is now at #15 with a 2.9 share. The conservative news/talk station had a 4.1 share in the November ratings period. Similar trends are being seen across the country, as this format has been falling out of favor with listeners somewhat. WLS-FM has dropped to a tie at #16 with a 2.6 share. The Classic Hits station has a 4.1 share at this time last year. This seems to indicate that WLS-FM's alteration in the playlist and silencing of its DJs is not working with fans.

Here is how the top of the Persons ages 6+ rankings looked for the January 2013 ratings period...

Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight:
    1 WVAZ-FM
    2 WBBM-AM
    3 WTMX-FM
    4 WGN-AM
    5 WUSN-FM
    6 WNUA-FM
    7 WGCI-FM
    8t WDRV-FM
    8t WKSC-FM
    8t WOJO-FM
    11 WSCR-AM
    12 WBBM-FM
    13t WLIT-FM
    13t WLUP-FM
    15 WLS-AM
    16t WPPN-FM
    16t WLS-FM
    18 WPWX-FM
    19 WXRT-FM
    20 WILV-FM

For the Morning Drive time of 6:00am-10:00am, WBBM-AM/Newsradio 780 continues to be #1, this month with a strong 6.3 share. WTMX-FM is right behind them at #2 with a 6.0 share. #3 is WLS-AM with a 4.8 share, although that number is down from 5.8 from just one month earlier. WNUA-FM comes in at #4 with a .7 share and WGN-AM is #5 with a 4.6 share, down from a 5.5 the month before. WSCR-AM now moves up to sixth place with 4.2 share and could move up into the Top 5 soon, especially if WLS-AM and WGN-AM continue to slip downward.

For the Midday's hours of 10:00am-3:00pm, WVAZ-FM is #1 with a 6.0 share. WDRV-FM (simulcast on WWDV-FM) is #2 with a 4.9 share. #3 is WGN-AM with a 4.6 share, while #4 is WTMX-FM with a 4.4 share. WOJO-FM comes in at #5 with a 4.3 share.

For the Afternoon Drive hours of 3:00pm-7:00pm, WVAZ-FM is still #1 with a even higher 7.2 share. WUSN-FM jumps up to #2 with a 4.5 share. Third place is a three-way tie between WGN-AM, WBBM-AM, and WTMX-FM, each with a 4.4 share.

In Evenings (7:00pm-Midnight), WVAZ-FM gets even stronger, coming in at #1 with a whopping 9.1 share. WGCI-FM is #2 with a 6.4 share. #3 is WBBM-AM with a 5.4 share. WPWX-FM moves up to #4 with a 5.0 share. WTMX-FM has a 4.2 share, good enough for #5.


Looking now at the highly-desired demographic (by advertisers, and therefore station owners) of Persons ages 25-54...

In the overall numbers (Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight), WTMX-FM jumps back into first place jumping up 1.6 share in four weeks time to a 6.2 share -- the station's highest share since 2011. Second place goes to WVAZ-FM, who improves .2 share to a 5.7 average. Third place is a two-way tie between WOJO-FM and WUSN-FM, each with a 4.2 share. For WOJO-FM, that represents a .4 drop, as fans seemed to have moved over to rival WNUA-FM. For WUSN-FM, it is a .9 share increase from the month before. WDRV-FM/97.1 The Drive drives back up to pre-holiday shape with a .6 increase in share to a 4.1 and moves back to fifth place.

Other notable increases for the January ratings period include WNUA-FM, which is now up to #7 and a 3.9 share. This marks the highest ratings the station has seen in this demographic since flipping to a Spanish-language format almost four years ago. WSCR-AM gains more strength moving up to a tie at #8 and a 3.7 share. WXRT-FM gains .6 and is back up to a 3.3 share, now ranked at #13.

Of course, the biggest decrease in ratings and share belongs to WLIT-FM. The post-holiday blues for the station has it dropping from its year-high of a 10.3 share and a #1 ranking to only a 2.9 share and a ranking of #14.

Here is how the top of the Persons ages 25-54 rankings looked for the January 2013 ratings period...

Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight:
    1 WTMX-FM
    2 WVAZ-FM
    3t WUSN-FM
    3t WOJO-FM
    5 WDRV-FM
    6 WKSC-FM
    7 WNUA-FM
    8t WSCR-AM
    8t WLUP-FM
    10 WGCI-FM
    11 WBBM-FM
    12 WBBM-AM
    13 WXRT-FM
    14 WLIT-FM
    15 WJMK-FM

For the Morning Drive time of 6:00am-10:00am, the perennial winner is of course, WTMX-FM, whose "Eric & Kathy Morning Show" remains a ratings juggernaut, coming in at an 8.5 share. WBBM-AM comes in second place with 5.1 share. WDRV-FM is #3 with a 4.6 share. WNUA-FM is at #4 with a 4.3 share. WSCR-AM moves up to #5 with a 4.1 share. Worth noting is WUSN-FM's morning surge. The US99.5 morning show with Lisa Dent and Ramblin' Ray went from a 2.9 share last month to a 4.0 share this month, good enough for a #6 ranking. As usual, WTMX-FM was #1 in mornings with Women 25-54, while WSCR-AM was #1 with Men 25-54.

For the Midday's hours of 10:00am-3:00pm, WTMX-FM retains the lion's share of the morning audience and remains at #1 with a 5.8 share. Hubbard-owned sister-station WDRV-FM comes in at #2 with a 5.5 share. WVAZ-FM and WOJO-FM share the #3 spot, each with a 5.3 share. Moving up to fifth place is WNUA-FM with a 3.9 share. A station notably missing is WLS-FM, which for much of last year was in the Top 5 for middays, if not #1. However, since the station changed musical directions, released its midday host, and placed a gag on the rest of its DJs, midday radio listeners are going elsewhere. The station now sits at #15.

For the Afternoon Drive hours of 3:00pm-7:00pm, WVAZ-FM is back at #1 with a even higher 6.7 share. WTMX-FM is #2 with 5.4 share. At #3 is WKSC-FM/103.5 Kiss FM with a 4.8 share. WUSN-FM, with ACM nominee Drew Walker, is at #4 with a 4.6 share. At #5 is WBBM-FM with a 4.4 share.

For Evenings (7:00pm-Midnight), WVAZ-FM is just incredible in this demographic, reaching #1 with a gigantic 10.9 share. WGCI-FM is #2 with a 5.8 share. #3 is WTMX-FM with a 4.6 share. WKSC-FM is in fourth place with a 4.5 share. WLUP-FM has a 4.3 share, good enough for #5.

For the Weekends (Saturday and Sunday from 6:00am-Midnight), WTMX-FM is the #1 station, bringing in a 5.9 share. They are followed by WVAZ-FM with a 5.4 share. At #3 is WNUA-FM with a 5.0 share, their best weekend numbers as El Patron 95.5. In fourth place is a tie between WUSN-FM, WKSC-FM, and WGCI-FM, each with a 4.6 share.

The other highly desired advertiser demographic is Women 25-54. In that demo in the overall numbers (Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight), WTMX-FM retains its familiar place as the #1 station, but this time with a highly impressive 9.0 share. WVAZ-FM comes in at #2 with a 6.2 share. WNUA-FM moves up to third place with a 5.3 share. WKSC-FM is #4 with a 5.0 share and WUSN-FM is #5 with a 4.8 share. The rest of the Top 10 for Women 25-54 are (in order): WBBM-FM, WGCI-FM, WLIT-FM, WXRT-FM, and WOJO-FM.

As impressive as WSCR-AM's numbers were in the all ages demographic, giving them all-time highs, the numbers are even more impressive in the station's target demographic of Men 25-54. The gap between this sports talker and their closest rival, WMVP-AM seems to keep widening. Overall, WSCR-AM was #1 with Men 25-54 with a 5.9 share, while WMVP-AM was #11 with a 3.1. In mornings, WSCR-AM was again #1 with a 7.3 share, while WMVP-AM was #8 with only a 3.6 share. In middays, WSCR-AM is #2 with a 5.4 share (WDRV-FM is #1), while WMVP-AM is #9 with a 3.5 share. For afternoons, WSCR-AM is again #1 with a 6.5 share, while WMVP-AM is down to #17 with a 2.6 share. If this was a boxing match between these two radio stations, the referee would have stopped the fight by now.


Taking a quick look at a younger demographic of Persons 18-34 now...

In the overall numbers (Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight), the new king of the hill is WNUA-FM. For the "Holiday" period, it actually tied with WLIT-FM for the #1 spot in this demographic with a 7.8 share. With "The Holiday Lite" unplugged and put away until next season, WNUA-FM is all alone at the top, this month increasing their share even more, now at 7.9.

WNUA-FM also has the #1 morning show, the #1 midday show and is #1 on weekends.

Until the "Holiday" ratings period, WGCI-FM had a streak of four months in a row at #1 and looked like that streak would continue long into 2013. Despite a very decent share of 7.3, WGCI-FM is just #2 with 18-34 year olds, thanks to the surge in WNUA-FM's popularity. WGCI-FM is #1 in afternoons and evenings, however.

WUSN-FM stays strong at #3 with a 5.7 share. WTMX-FM is in fourth place with a 5.5 share. #5 is WKSC-FM, with a 5.3 share. The rest of the Top 10 are for Persons 18-34 are (in order): WPWX-FM, WBBM-FM, WOJO-FM, and a ninth place tie between WVAZ-FM and WKQX-LP.

Last month's #1, WLIT-FM fell from a 7.8 share to a 1.7 share. That gives the station a ranking in this demo of #20 (tied with WMVP-AM).


The next ratings period is the "February" period, which covers January 31st through February 27th. That data will be released publicly on March 18th.

Ratings data © Copyright 2013 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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