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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Summer Radio Ratings Are In

Have you been enjoying "Cincinnati's greatest hits" on WGRR-FM (103.5)? Lots of people sure are. And did you ever listen to "Mancow in the Morning" on SupertalkFM96.5? (Not many did.)

WGRR-FM, which has morphed from "oldies" into classic hits from the 1970s and early '80s, rocked and rolled into second place among all listeners (age 12 and up) and the age 25-54 demographic advertisers want, in summer quarter Arbitron ratings released today. The station, including the Chris O'Brien-Janeen Coyle morning team and program director Keith Mitchell's afternoon drive show, had the best ratings in years. (Sorry, Music Professor!)

The success can be attributed to Cumulus, the new owner. The station was swapped to Cumulus from the former CBS Radio group (now Bonneville) for 94.9 (now WSWD-FM, The Sound) last Nov. 1.

O'Brien credits a better sound quality, thanks to Cumulus engineers. A good part of the success comes from a better music mix, from Mitchell and Cumulus research, to fill the void from the old MOJO. And not having any direct competition. (Might "the FOX" somedaychange its music mix?)

Being acquired by Cumulus was "definitely the best thing that happened to us. The station has flourished since we moved a year ago. We're no longer treated like the red-headed stepchild. It's been great from the start," O'Brien says.

But the celebration at Cumulus was tempered by the low ratings for SupertalkFM95.6 (WFTK-FM), launched 11 months ago. Supertalk ranked last with all listeners, and last with the 25-54 and 18-34 age groups. Ouch!

The syndicated "Mancow" show in the morning – radio's prime-time – failed to draw any ratings. That's why the "Two Angry Guys," Richard Skinner and Tom Gamble, took over mornings Oct. 1, sooner than planned. Having morning commuters tuned to "SupertalkFM96.5" should help boost Andy Furman's afternoon ratings, which again failed to match his winter quarter debut. (Or beat Lance McAlister on WCKY-AM, 1530).

"Our only constant has been Andy Furman," says Karrie Sudbrack, general manager for Cumulus' WFTK-FM, WGRR-FM and WRRM-FM. "If you don’t have ratings in the morning, you’re not going to get much of an audience for the rest of the day."

She promises that SupertalkFM96.5 will become "more live and local" in the future.

Other ratings highlights:

-As usual, WLW-AM was No. 1 with all listeners, and the 25-54 demographic. The station has been the big No. 1 for 7-1/2 years.

-Country WUBE-FM (B105.1) also had a solid summer, led by strong ratings for the Bill Whyte-Amanda Orlando morning team. Whyte & Orlando were No. 1 with listeners 18-34, and No. 2 with all listeners and the 25-54 demo.

-WKRQ-FM (Q102) was fourth in the 18-34 demo, but program director Patti Marshall was happier that Q102 was fifth in the 25-54 demo. "That's really big for Q, to be a station for all adults, and not just adult women," she says.

-Brian Thomas and John Phillips had their best quarter as WKRC-AM (550) morning hosts, with a 4.6 audience share, since replacing Jerry Thomas, Brian's dad, in January.

-WSAI-AM, which switched from recorded talk shows to ESPN July 2, did not receive any ratings. The audience share for local sports talk WCKY-AM (Homer 1530) did not drop from spring after the debut on ESPN on the sister Clear Channel station.

--The old MIX94.1 received its best ratings in three quarters... a month after the format and call letters were changed. It's now WNNF-FM, Radio 94.1 The "new adult contemporary" station dropped pop and dance songs for lots of Goo Goo Dolls, John Mayer, U2, No Doubt, Nickelback, Nelly Furtado, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5 and INXS.

Here are the top 10s lists:


1. WLW-AM; 2. WGRR-FM; 3. WUBE-FM; 4. WRRM-FM; 5. WEBN-FM; 6. (tie) WKRC-AM, WKRQ-FM, WKFS-FM; 9. WIZF-FM; 10. (tie) WMOJ-FM, WOFX-FM.


1. WLW-AM; 2. WGRR-FM; 3. WUBE-FM; 4. WEBN-FM; 5. WKRQ-FM; 6. WRRM-FM; 7. WOFX-FM; 8. WMOJ-FM; 9. WSWD-FM; 10. WNNF-FM (f0rmerly MIX94.1).


1. WEBN-FM; 2. (tie) WUBE-FM, WKFS-FM; 4. WKRQ-FM; 5. WIZF-FM; 6. WSWD-FM; 7. WLW-AM; 8. WOFX-FM; 9. (tie) WGRR-FM, WNNF-FM.


at 10/18/2007 4:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A long time fan of the Prof here. And while I've probably spent all of 30 minutes listening to the youngsters at WGRR since Jim's firing, I do think that moving him out was long overdue and the best things the station could have done for themselves, and for him. They clearly are connecting better with their too hip for the over 50 set audience. And the Prof sounds better and happier than he has in years, working at 106.5. Did 106.5 show in the book? I doubt it. And I doubt if they care. Eventually you learn that radio is about a whole lot more than some false bravado about ratings. If Jim can make 106.5 some money, and make a few dollars himself too, then good for him.

at 10/18/2007 4:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I'm glad Jim has landed a new gig, it says much about the current state of local radio that genuinely knowledgeable, individual and creative on-air personalities are being relegated to backwater operations. I just came across some comments elsewhere on this blog about (and from) Tom Sandman, a super talented and highly respected ex-WARM 98 guy. Now he's at a retirement home radio station (!) and The Professor's doing country at another tiny outfit. What's going on here? The "youngsters" you refer to all sound identical - not just at WGRR but all around town - they might as well be replicants from some sci-fi/zombie flick.

Speaking of stations too small to make the Top Ten ratings cut...How is WDJO Oldies 1160 doing? Last I heard the numbers were DOA and showed no signs of recovery. WDJO is yet another small station that has a great format, but has been pretty much off the media radar screen since their debut and is likely to remain so.

at 10/18/2007 7:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

how many 12 year olds are listening to wlw?

at 10/19/2007 12:52 AM Blogger jim labarbara said...

john im surprised you took a shot at me (sorry professor). im happy that wgrr is successful. i left on good terms at the end of march. i was fired out of atlanta we were a close group ron, cob, the queen & steve probably always will be. we all talk & keep in touch. keith was great to work for. my last book had me #1 35-64 and #4 25-54 at that time very good for me & the station. id like to think that with the market the way it is & keiths guidance i would have gone up with wgrr. i had 14 1/2 of the happiest yrs of my life hanging with wgrr. im cheering for wgrr terrific book my friends your prof

at 10/19/2007 3:53 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did the 2 idiots in the morning on 1360 do?

at 10/19/2007 7:39 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, this proves what a total wasteland Cincinnati radio has become. WGRR - I want to puke everytime I hear a commercial for married with microphones. How can they do a radio gig with a straight face?

at 10/19/2007 7:39 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WAKW 93.3 is holding their fall fundraiser ending today. Looks like their ratings are down a bit. Wonder if that will impact the budget?

at 10/19/2007 9:36 AM Blogger Scott Chumley said...

Cincinnati is a special place for radio. I would guess that WLW is the only AM station to take #1 in any metro market. I moved from Cincinanti to Lafayette, IN for school, and got XM Radio just so I could listen to WLW!

at 10/19/2007 10:50 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, so the actual ratings are in. Big deal. The real question is: is local radio losing listeners overall?

at 10/19/2007 11:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did the 2 idiots in the morning on 1360 do?

Apparently better than their lead-in Tim Lewis who just got canned.

at 10/19/2007 11:18 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the "Big Dog" Tim Lewis lose his show? The link to his blog on 1530's main page is gone.

at 10/19/2007 1:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Tim Lewis on 1530 Homer??

at 10/19/2007 1:45 PM Blogger aaron said...

Scott Chumley, why would you pay a subscription fee to hear WLW? The only time I listen anymore is for Reds and Bengals games. Jim Scott is annoying, Mike McConnell isn't local anymore, Willie is a joke, Gary's retiring, Paul's boring, Scott Sloans can be found on stations all across the country, and overnights are bad because I'm not a trucker.

at 10/19/2007 7:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean how can they do a radio gig with a straight face. I admire 2 people who can live and work together and still remain married.

They are funny and sincere. They are the only reason I listen to Cincinnati radio.

at 10/21/2007 12:32 AM Blogger Robert Scott said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

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