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An In-Depth Look At Chicago's February 2013 Radio Ratings From Arbitron

The Arbitron ratings for the Chicago radio market for the February period -- which covers the dates of 01/31/13-02/27/13 -- 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 December and "Holiday" periods of Arbitron's are not typical representations of what listener habits are the rest of the year. The January period, while better, still shows the listeners only mostly back to their regular radio routines. It is the February period that is the first truly exciting ratings month of the year and really shows which stations are doing quite well and which ones need to make changes to have improved ratings later in the year.

The station to beat in 2013 looks to be WVAZ-FM/V103, which was also the most dominant station of 2012. For the second month this year (and there have only been two ratings months so far) WVAZ-FM is clearly #1. The station has a commanding 6.6 share, which is a .4 increase over last ratings period's numbers. For the second month in a row, the station is a 1.3 share ahead of its closest competitor.

Already looking incredibly strong for 2013 is WTMX-FM, which had a tremendous February ratings month. The station made further surges in its audience share -- especially in its target demo of ages 25-54 (more on that below...) -- to give it a 5.3 share of the all ages demo. That is a 1.4 share increase over its low point in the "Holiday" ratings period just two months ago. This brings the Hot/Modern AC station all the way to a tie at #2.

Also tied at #2 is the always-strong WBBM-AM/Newsradio 780 (simulcast on WCFS-FM). The local news station also saw an increase in February, moving up .4 share to a 5.3. This was the first increase the station has experienced since the elections last fall. Even more impressive is that this was done without the help of any major news/weather stories or Chicago Bears broadcasts.

For the second month in a row, WGN-AM also saw an increase in share in February, moving up .4 share (.7 share in two months time) to a 4.9. This is the best all ages numbers the station has experienced since last spring.

In fact, most top stations saw either increased numbers or very similar numbers from the month before. Other notable gains by stations include WKSC-FM (+.4 share), WLS-FM (+.4 share), and WBBM-FM (+.3).

A few stations saw losses, however. Sports talk radio saw obvious decreases. That is always expected this time of year, after the end of the football season. It is also the period well before the start of the baseball season and a time when the Chicago Bulls are without their biggest star. Only the Blackhawks are providing any excitement for sports fans to talk about, and that doesn't always translate into strong ratings for these stations. WSCR-AM slipped .7 to a 2.7 share and WMVP-AM slipped .4 to only a 1.1 share. (WSCR-AM remains #1 in its target demo, though. More on that later...) WUSN-FM/US99.5, which had a very strong upward bounce in the January ratings, lost .6 share in February, knocking the station back to a 3.4 share and a #9 ranking. Other notable decreases in February include: WOJO-FM (-.6 share), WPPN-FM (-.3 share), WLEY-FM (-.3 share), WDRV-FM (-.3 share), and of course, WLIT-FM continues its post-Christmas decent. 93.9 Lite FM is down to a 3.1 share, a 6.9 share fall in two ratings periods, although the slipping appears to be leveling off now.

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

Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight:
    1 WVAZ-FM
    2t WBBM-AM
    2t WTMX-FM
    4 WGN-AM
    5 WKSC-FM
    6 WGCI-FM
    7 WNUA-FM
    8 WBBM-FM
    9 WUSN-FM
    10t WDRV-FM
    10t WLUP-FM
    10t WLS-FM
    13 WLIT-FM
    14 WOJO-FM
    15 WLS-AM
    16 WSCR-AM
    17t WILV-FM
    17t WPPN-FM
    19t WXRT-FM
    19t WPWX-FM

In total Cume Persons, WKSC-FM remains #1 with 2,165,000. WBBM-FM was #2 with 2,043,100, while WTMX-FM is #3 with 1,906,600.

For weekly Time Spent Listening (TSL), WVON-AM is #1 with an average of 6:06. #2 was WLS-AM with an average weekly TSL of 5:09, and WGN-AM was #3 with 5:08.

For the Morning Drive time of 6:00am-10:00am, WBBM-AM/Newsradio 780 continues to be #1, but for the first time in a long time, it has company. Sharing #1 with a 6.9 share is WTMX-FM. This is 101.9 The Mix's first time being #1 in the all ages demo, after years of being #1 in the Persons 25-54 and Women 25-54 demos. There is also a tie at #3 between WGN-AM and WLS-AM, each with a 5.0 share. WNUA-FM/El Patron 95.5 is #5 with a 4.5 share.

For the Midday's hours of 10:00am-3:00pm, WVAZ-FM is #1 with a 6.0 share for the second month in a row. WTMX-FM jumps up to #2 with a 5.0 share (up from a 4.4 share in January). #3 is WGN-AM with a 4.8 share, while WBBM-AM jumps up to #4 with a 4.6 share. WLS-FM comes in at #5 with a 4.6 share.

For the Afternoon Drive hours of 3:00pm-7:00pm, WVAZ-FM is still #1 with 6.9 share, down slightly from the previous month's 7.2 share. WBBM-AM jumps up 1.1 share to 5.5, making it #2 in afternoons. #3 is WTMX-FM with a 5.1 share. Fourth place is a tie between WKSC-FM and WGN-AM, each with a 4.6 share.

In Evenings (7:00pm-Midnight), WVAZ-FM comes in at #1 again, this time with a 8.9 share. WGCI-FM is #2 with a 6.6 share. #3 is WBBM-AM with a 5.5 share. WGN-AM moves up to #4 with a 5.4 share - a 2.0 share increase over January's numbers. WKSC-FM has a 4.9 share, making it #5 at night.


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 remains in first place, adding 1.0 share to the 1.6 share increase from January to a massive 7.2 share in this important demographic -- the station's highest share since 2011. Second place goes to WVAZ-FM, with a 5.6 share. Jumping up to #3 from #6 is WKSC-FM, now with a 4.4 share. WGCI-FM jumps even more, from #10 to #4, increasing its share by .5 to 4.1. Tied for fifth place are sister-stations WBBM-AM and WBBM-FM, each with 4.0 share. In four weeks time, WBBM-AM increased by .6 share and WBBM-FM increased by .5 share.

Hit radio stations had their best month since last summer, with WKSC-FM, WBBM-FM, WGCI-FM, and WTMX-FM each seeing decent increases. The only hit music station having an off month was WUSN-FM, which slipped .6 share.

Besides WUSN-FM, there are a few other notable decreases for the February ratings period. WDRV-FM/WWDV-FM had an unusually large 1.0 share drop here in their target demographic, knocking it out of the Top 10. The station (or its competition) did nothing unusual or different in the February period to explain the decrease. Two Regional Mexican radio stations saw decreases: WOJO-FM slipped down by .8 share and WLEY-FM fell by .5 share. With the football season over, both of Chicago's full-time sports stations, WSCR-AM and WMVP-AM fell by .6 share each.

In the Classic Hits format battle between WLS-FM and WJMK-FM, K-Hits continues to win in this demo. WJMK-FM/104.3 K-Hits increased its share by .2 in the February period, now sitting at a 2.9 share, good enough for a tie at #14. WLS-FM also increased by a .2 share, but only has a 2.2 share now and sits at a tie for #20. In comparison, for the February 2012 ratings period, WLS-FM had a 3.9 share and was tied at #9, while WJMK-FM was #21 with a 2.2 share. In 2013, these two stations seem to be on opposite paths for the Persons 25-54 demographic.

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

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

For Women 25-54 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 9.8 share. WVAZ-FM comes in at #2 with a 6.6 share. WKSC-FM moves up to #3 with a 5.4 share. Tied for fourth place is WBBM-FM and WGCI-FM, each with a 4.6 share.

For Men 25-54 in the overall numbers (Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight), the top stations are much more closer together. First place is a three-way tie between WSCR-AM, WBBM-AM, and WTMX-FM, each with a 5.0 share. WVAZ-FM and WLUP-FM are tied at #4 with a 4.8 share each.

For the Morning Drive time of 6:00am-10:00am for Persons 25-54, the winner as always is WTMX-FM, whose share has hit double digits. The "Eric & Kathy Morning Show" ratings juggernaut now has an amazing 10.0 share. WBBM-AM comes in second place with 5.6 share. With WDRV-FM's inexplicable drop (going from #3 to #18 in mornings in February), WNUA-FM moves up to third place with a 4.2 share. This also allows WSCR-AM to move up to #4 with a 4.0 share. Both WNUA-FM and WSCR-AM lost .1 share from January, but moved up one slot in the rankings. WBBM-FM/B96 had an impressive increase of .6 to a 3.7 share to reach #5 for mornings. As usual, WTMX-FM was #1 in mornings with Women 25-54 with a stunning 13.8 share. However, for the first time in over a year, WSCR-AM is not #1 for Men 25-54 in mornings. For February, WBBM-AM moved back up into that spot with a 6.9 share.

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 7.0 share. WVAZ-FM comes in at #2 with a 5.0 share. WNUA-FM gains .5 share and moves up to the #3 spot with a 4.4 share. WOJO-FM loses 1.4 share and drops to #4 with a 3.9 share. WDRV-FM falls from #2 to #5 with a 3.8 share -- a 1.7 share decrease. For Women 25-54, the #1 radio station in middays is WTMX-FM (no surprise there) with a 9.8 share. For Men 25-54, the #1 station is a tie between WSCR-AM and WLUP-FM, each with a 5.2 share.

For the Afternoon Drive hours of 3:00pm-7:00pm, WTMX-FM returns to #1 with a 6.8 share -- a 1.4 share increase over January's numbers. WVAZ-FM is #2 with a 6.4 share. At #3 is WKSC-FM with a 5.2 share. WBBM-AM is at #4 with a 4.7 share, which is an increase of 1.3 share from the month before. At #5 is WBBM-FM with a 4.6 share. For Women 25-54, the #1 radio station in middays is again WTMX-FM with a 9.3 share. For Men 25-54, the #1 station is WSCR-AM with a 6.4 share.

For Evenings (7:00pm-Midnight), WVAZ-FM/V103 continues to be the dominant nighttime station. Although it lost 1.7 share from January, WVAZ-FM still has a whopping 9.2 share in February, easily making it #1. WGCI-FM is #2 with a 6.6 share, a .8 increase from the month before. #3 is WTMX-FM with a 5.3 share -- a .7 increase in share. Thanks largely to Blackhawks game broadcasts, WGN-AM jumps up an amazing 2.7 share, all the way to a 4.7 share. In January, the station was #21 at nights for Persons 25-54, but for February, it leaps up to a #4 ranking. WKSC-FM is in fifth place with a 4.6 share. For Women 25-54 AND Men 25-54, the #1 radio station in evenings is again WVAZ-FM with a 9.3 share and 9.0 share respectively.


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

In the overall numbers (Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight), not only is WNUA-FM #1 for the third ratings period in a row, but it is still getting stronger. For February, WNUA-FM/El Patron 95.5 increases another .4 share to an 8.3 share -- 1.3 share ahead of its closest competitor. WNUA-FM also has the #1 morning show, the #1 midday show and is #1 on weekends.

The #2 radio station in this demographic is WGCI-FM with a 7.0 share. WGCI-FM is #1 in afternoons and evenings, however.

WTMX-FM gained .6 share to rise to #3 with a 6.1 share. The #4 station WVAZ-FM showed great growth in February, gaining 1.4 share to 5.8 share. WKSC-FM is #5 with a 5.7 share. The rest of the Top 10 for Persons 18-34 are (in order): WKQX-LP, WBBM-FM, WPWX-FM, WUSN-FM, and WOJO-FM.


The next ratings period is the March period, which covers February 28th through March 27th. The all ages ratings data for the Chicago market for March will be released publicly on April 15th.

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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