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

The Arbitron ratings for the Chicago radio market for the "July" period (6/24/10-7/21/10) 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.

The all ages numbers can be found HERE or HERE.

In the all ages ratings numbers, Chicago's AM news & news/talk-based stations, still did quite well, although all of the AM leaders lost a step or two this month. WBBM-AM lost two-tenths of a ratings point, but still did well enough to gain the #1 spot in the ratings with a 5.6. Last month's leader, WGN-AM, slipped four-tenths of a ratings point to a 5.5 and fell to a #2 ranking. There is only one-tenth of a point separating WBBM-AM & WGN-AM, although with the Cubs broadcasts disappearing for WGN & Bears broadcasts set to begin for WBBM, it is expected that the division between the two stations could grow in the next couple of months. WLS-AM also lost two-tenths of a ratings point to a 4.2, dropping them from #4 to #5. Stations that saw a nice growth from the June ratings to the July ratings include: WUSN-FM (+.5), WGCI-FM (+.4) and WJMK-FM (+.7). Stations not so happy about the June to July difference include: the aforementioned WGN-AM (-.4), WKSC-FM (-.5), WBEZ-FM (-.4), WPWX-FM (-.4), WCFS-FM (-.4), and WJKL-FM (-.4).

In the Morning Drive daypart of 6:00am-10:00am, WGN-AM was the clear winner with a 8.7 share, beating out WBBM-AM's second place share of 8.4 and WLS-AM's third place share of 7.5. WTMX-FM's Eric & Kathy morning show, which dominates many of the other demographics, came in 4th place in the all ages numbers with a 5.6 share, followed by 5th place WOJO-FM with 4 share.

WGN-AM's strong morning showing is a good sign for much-discussed morning host, Greg Jarrett. Seen by many as an "outsider," who came to the station to take over mornings without having worked in the market before, he has improved WGN's morning ratings a great deal. By looking at the actual hours he is on (5:00am-9:00am) and not just the Morning Drive daypart, his ratings are even more impressive. Thanks to a strong first hour of the show, WGN-AM is #1 with a whopping 10.3 share, a six-tenth of a percentage point increase over last month and a 1.5 increase over July 2009's morning ratings for the same four hour period. Showing the strength of their older adult audience, WGN is also #1 the 35-64 demographic in mornings with an 8 share for the hours Greg Jarrett is on the air. It should be pointed out that WGN-AM has scaled back Greg Jarrett's morning show as of this month, having it end at 8:30am to make room for a controversial new host, whose show begins at that time.

In the Afternoon Drive daypart of 3:00pm-7:00pm, WGN-AM again took the top honors with a 5.6 share, thanks largely to Chicago Cubs broadcasts which continue to bring great ratings for the station despite the team's lackluster (and sometimes even embarrassing) showings this season. Doing straight-forward news & traffic reports continues to work for WBBM-AM who come in to a close second place in the afternoons with a 5.5 share. Third place goes to WGCI-FM with a 4.4 share. 4th place with a 4.3 share is a three-way tie between WTMX-FM, WUSN-FM and WLS-FM.

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Looking now at the 25-54 demographic, the highly desired range for many advertisers, and thus, radio station owners.

Once again, the undisputed heavyweight champion of this demographic is Bonneville's WTMX-FM, coming in with a 5.8 share overall. The huge ratings for The Mix's Eric & Kathy morning show and the station's very loyal female fan base gives the station strong numbers all day long. WTMX was also #1 with Women 25-54, with a 9.3 share and also with Women 18-49 with the same numbers.

Clear Channel's WVAZ-FM moves up to a second place finish with a 5.1 share, and Bonneville's WDRV-FM/WWDV-FM simulcast comes in with a very close third place with a 5 share. Univision's WOJO-FM slipped just a little bit, down to a fourth place finish and a 4.8 share.

Seeing some nice increases this month for the Persons 25-54 demographic are: WLS-FM, WXRT-FM, and WJMK-FM. Thanks in part to a strong morning show and a great winning streak on the Chicago White Sox broadcasts, WSCR-AM had a nice bump, ending up in 16th place overall, and increasing its lead over rival WMVP-AM.

This demographic continues to be a difficult one for WGN-AM, though. They fell from 8th place last month, down to 15th this month, as some younger fans have given up on the Chicago Cubs and their broadcasts. Other notable drops included WBEZ-FM and yet another slip down for WCFS-FM.

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

Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight:
      1 WTMX-FM
      2 WVAZ-FM
      3 WDRV-FM
      4 WOJO-FM
      5 WUSN-FM
      6 WGCI-FM
      7t WXRT-FM
      7t WLS-FM
      7t WLIT-FM
      10t WJMK-FM
      10t WKQX-FM
      12t WBBM-AM
      12t WLEY-FM
      14 WILV-FM
      15 WGN-AM

The busy Morning Drive radio race ends with the usual winner: WTMX-FM claims the top spot with an 8.5 share. (For Women 25-54, it's #1 with a huge 14.7 share!) Second place also goes to Bonneville, as WDRV/WWDV comes in with a 5.4 share. This also goes to show the big difference between even #1 & #2 in the morning race. Eric & Kathy simply dominate it for 25-54 year old listeners. Third place is WBBM-AM who come in with a 5 share. WBEZ-FM has a 4.6 share, good enough for a fourth place spot. WOJO-FM is right behind them with a 4.5 share and fifth place finish. Sixth place is split between WUSN-FM & WLEY-FM. Eighth place is a tie between WXRT-FM & WLIT-FM. WVAZ-FM takes tenth place.

The only real surprise in the morning top rankings is WLIT-FM's Valentine. The very-safe and syndicated show from California, that began just under a year ago, was predicted to be a big loser for Clear Channel when it started. However, the show has somehow caught on with Chicago audiences. It has slowly grown in the ratings over the last few months and is now a steady Top 10 winner, helping WLIT-FM's overall ratings.

WTMX's dominance dips slightly in middays, as sister-station WDRV/WWDV takes the #1 slot and WTMX comes in second. WDRV's Bob Stroud is a Chicago radio veteran, who began here in 1979 on WMET-FM. He often is overlooked as one of Chicago's greatest DJs, but this #1 showing is a testament to his ongoing radio strength. Third place in middays is split between WUSN-FM & WOJO-FM. The rest of the Top 10 is made up of WVAZ-FM, WXRT-FM, WGCI-FM, WLIT-FM, WJMK-FM, and WLEY-FM.

Afternoon Drive finds WTMX-FM back on top with a 5.3 share. (Note: That share is the same amount as what WTMX had in middays, but Bob Strouds' midday draw gave The Drive a higher share at that time.) WDRV settles back into second place, tied with WUSN-FM. WGCI-FM moves up into fourth place and sister-station WVAZ-FM takes fifth. Sixth place is WGN-AM, thanks largely to Chicago Cubs broadcasts (more on that below), but also due to Garry Meier's growing fanbase which includes a younger demographic for WGN. The remainder of the afternoon Top 10 is WOJO-FM, WJMK-FM, WLS-FM and WKQX-FM.

One of the spotlight contests in Afternoon Drive is that between AM rivals, WLS-AM & WGN-AM. WLS-AM features Roe Conn's show and WGN-AM features Roe's former on-air partner, Garry Meier. In the 25-54 numbers, which is the target demo for both of these shows, WGN-AM is the clear winner with a 4 share over WLS-AM's 3 share. However, the comparison is not an altogether perfect one in this case. Roe Conn's show leaves the air at 6:00pm which is followed by a lower rated syndicated and tape-delayed show. Also, during the July ratings period, numerous Chicago Cubs games aired during some or all of these hours, instead of The Garry Meier Show. So, in an effort to compare "apples to apples," when comparing the two shows together on the days both aired at the same time during this ratings period, and between the head-on hours of 3:00pm-6:00pm, WLS is a winner. On these days and during those hours, WLS-AM has a 3.6 share in the Persons 25-54 demo, while WGN-AM had a 3.0 share. WLS had an average cume of 74,400 and WGN had an average cume 60,700. While this is more of an "apples to apples" comparison, it still is not 100% fair since four of the days that are counted contained "The Best of Garry Meier" reruns, while WLS aired fresh Roe Conn episodes, although Conn himself was also on vacation.

What the above comparison does show is that there is a large drop-off in listenership from when the Cubs games are aired from what WGN's regular programming brings in. However, it also shows the strength of Garry Meier's growing fanbase to still be able to bring in a 3.0 share against stiff competition from WLS, even with being gone for half that time and with constant breaks for Cubs broadcasts. In the 12+ numbers and on the days the Cubs were not playing, Meier brought in a 4.7 share and in the 35-64 demo, he brought in a 5.3 share. WGN has to feel good about what Meier is building there.

At the same time, WLS has a lot to be proud of, as well. June's ratings had WLS-AM with 21st place finish in afternoons and a low 2.3 share. The new July ratings have WLS-AM jumping up to 14th place and a full 3 share -- an increase of seven-tenths of a percentage in just one month's time. The addition of Richard Roeper to Roe Conn's show and the return of Ron Magers & Christina Filiaggi have improved the show in quality, and most importantly, made a positive impression on listeners, gaining back many that were lost after previous WLS managers made some unwise moves.

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Now, here is an in-depth look at the younger side of yesterday's Arbitron ratings for the Chicago radio market for the "July" period -- the 18-34 demographic.

Last month's big story was the first-ever #1 win in this demo for WKSC-FM. It was a short story, apparently. Kiss-FM fell back down to a #3 finish this month and a 6.1 share. Rival WBBM-FM edged upward to 5th place with 5.3 share.

WOJO-FM came back to claim the top spot in the all day numbers in this demographic, with a 7.2 share. WGCI-FM was again #2 with a 6.7 share. 4th place belonged to WKQX-FM, who slipped just a little this month but still brought in a 5.7 share.

This is not a demographic that favors AM radio. However, one of this months big surprises was a surge for WSCR-AM. They were in a tie for #18 last month, but this month, just missed reaching the Top 10, landing at #11. The next closest AM stations were WMVP-AM at #18, WGN-AM at #23 and WBBM-AM at #25.

WCFS-FM's ratings woes worsen in this demographic. Last month, Fresh 105.9 was at least in the Top 20 with a #16 finish. This month, they plummet down to #24 and a lowly 1.7 share.

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

Monday-Sunday 6:00am-Midnight:
      1 WOJO-FM
      2 WGCI-FM
      3 WKSC-FM
      4 WKQX-FM
      5 WBBM-FM
      6 WTMX-FM
      7 WDRV-FM
      8 WVAZ-FM
      9 WXRT-FM
      10 WUSN-FM
      11 WSCR-AM
      12 WPWX-FM
      13 WVIV-FM
      14t WLIT-FM
      14t WLS-FM
      14t WLEY-FM
      14t WNUA-FM

The big story in the Person 18-34 Morning Drive contest has to do with change at the very top. Eric & Kathy are no longer #1! While many figured it would be WKQX-FM's Sherman & Tingle who would unseat the morning King & Queen, it instead turned out to be a Tweety Bird from the west coast. Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo, whose syndicated morning show on WOJO-FM had a big surge in July, took the #1 spot for Morning Drive with an 8.3 share. WTMX is now #2 with a 7.8 share, followed by WKQX with a 5.6 share.

WDRV/WWDV takes 4th place, 5th place goes to the growing WGCI-FM Morning Riot show, WSCR-AM takes 6th, WMVP-AM & WBBM-FM tie for 7th place, and WXRT-FM comes in 9th. Another big story is WKSC-FM's DreX, whose ratings had a big fall from the #3 spot last month, all the way down for a tie in 10th place with WBBM-AM this month.

WKSC-FM's bright spot in July was in Afternoon Drive, where Ty Bentli was able to be in a tie (no pun intended) for the #1 spot, with a 7 share. Unfortunately for WKSC, Ty Bentli started his new job in Los Angeles on this past Monday. He's continuing to work his WKSC shift, as well (and voice tracking at a few other stations at the same time), but is expected to be gone from WKSC before the end of this month when his replacement is named.

Sister-station WGCI-FM shares the #1 spot for Afternoon Drive for the July ratings. WKQX-FM comes in a close third place with a 6.8 share. The #4 spot belongs to WBBM-FM with a 5.7 share. The rest of the afternoons' Top 10 are: WOJO-FM, WTMX-FM, WDRV-FM, WXRT-FM, and a ninth place tie between WUSN-FM & WLS-FM.

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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.

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