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Stern, Lite Fall from #1; Ratings Swing in
Winter Arbitron Ratings

Friday, April 20, 2001

     The Winter, 2001 Arbitron radio ratings covering the months of January, February, and March were released on Friday, April 20th.

     Two perennial ratings leaders have fallen from the top spot this quarter.  Howard Stern, long the king of morning ratings on K-Rock (WXRK, 92.3 FM), ended a nearly seven-year run at the top as all-news WINS (1010 AM) picked up listeners in AM Drive.  Stern`s audience share declined from 7.6 in the Fall Arbitron book to a 6.5 share this quarter.  While Stern`s rating often display volatility of a full share or more, this quarter`s share represents a long-time low and the first time Stern has placed second since the Spring of 1994.  Increased morning listenership for 1010 WINS propelled that daypart`s ratings from 5.9 in the Fall to 6.6 this quarter.  The decline in Stern`s ratings also pulled down K-Rock`s overall standing, from 3.7 to a 3.3 share.

     The other long-time ratings leader, Lite-FM (WLTW, 106.7 FM), lost its #1 perch to Hot 97 (WQHT, 97.1 FM), which enjoyed its strongest quarter since Summer 1997.  Lite-FM, which gained slightly this quarter (up 0.1 to 5.7), has held or tied for the 12+ lead for nine consecutive quarters. Its last finish below first place was Summer 1998.  Hot 97 has held the #2 spot for some time, but surged this quarter, moving from a 5.5 share in the Fall book to a 6.0 share.  All of its dayparts did well, especially afternoons and evenings.

     In Contemporary Hit Radio, both Z-100 (WHTZ, 100.3 FM) and WKTU (103.5 FM) rebounded somewhat from weak showings in the Fall book.  Z-100, tied for third place overall, was up 0.2 to 4.4, still lower than it is accustomed to finishing.  WKTU followed a record-low 3.5 share in the Fall with a 3.9 share this quarter; it enjoyed gains in all dayparts.  WPLJ (95.5 FM) declined from a 2.6 share in the Fall to a 2.3 share, with lower shares throughout its broadcast day. WPLJ has not seen a 2.3 share since Fall 1998.

     The classic competition between Urban rivals Kiss-FM (WRKS, 98.7) and WBLS (107.6 FM) continues to surprise.  Kiss declined substantially this quarter, falling from a strong 3.8 share in the Fall to a long-time low of 3.0 this quarter. The Isaac Hayes morning show, which is being replaced by the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show at the end of this month, fell sharply, down to a 2.5 share from 3.6 in the Fall.  WBLS also declined this quarter, down 0.3 to an overall 3.1 share.  Its showing was enough, though, to pull out in front of Kiss. BLS` syndicated Doug Banks Morning Show lost listeners this quarter, moving down from a 3.4 share in the Fall to a 2.8 share.

     The talk radio rivalry between WABC (770 AM) and WOR (710 AM) has revived after WABC took a substantial lead last quarter.  With the election and post-election behind us, the political talkers at WABC have been drawing fewer listeners; the station`s ratings declined from 3.7 in the Fall to a 2.9 share. WABC`s Curtis & Kuby morning show saw a 0.7 share decline, to 2.3.  WOR, conversely, picked up listeners this quarter after a drop in the Fall; it was up 0.2 to a 2.8 share. Its morning show, featuring Ed Walsh, is recovering from the departure of John Gambling and saw a ratings gain from 3.1 in the Fall to a 3.5 share.  Hot talker WNEW-FM (102.7) appears to have lost much of the momentum it had been building in 2000.  The station`s overall share dropped back from 2.0 in the Fall to 1.5, and the ratings for its anchor show, Opie & Anthony, fell sharply from 5.2 in the Fall to 3.7.  NEW`s morning show, the Sports Guys, draws but a mere 0.6 share.

     Other ratings notes: Jammin` 105 (WTJM, 105.1 FM), which experienced a weak showing in the Fall book, regained ground this quarter, moving up 0.4 to a 2.7 share.  Its Jay Thomas morning show remains flat at a 1.8 share.  Two stations which rarely move much in the ratings were up this quarter.  Smooth jazz CD101.9 (WQCD) rose 0.4 to a 3.6 share, its best showing in many years.  Classical WQXR (96.3 FM) rose 0.5 to a 3.0 share, its best quarter since Spring 1998. And debuting in the quarterly book for the first time is Spanish all-news station WNNY (1380 AM); it pulled in a 0.3 share.

     For a more detailed look at the Winter 2001 Arbitron ratings numbers, visit the NYRG Ratings Page.

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