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2016 Atlanta radio ratings midyear report: WSB, Kiss, Hot, Star, Fish on the rise

Jeff and Jenn are now competing with their former boss Bert Weiss (right). CREDIT: (left) Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com, (right) Twitter profile photo

Jeff and Jenn are now competing with their former boss Bert Weiss (right). CREDIT: (left) Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com, (right) Twitter profile photo

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Tuesday, July 19, 2016

News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB has taken the presidential race and ridden its craziness to the top of Atlanta radio the first half of 2016, according to Nielsen Audio data.

It has averaged an 8.9 rating in 2016 so far vs. 7.2 for the same time period in 2015. That’s a healthy 24 percent boost.

WSB bumped V-103 off from the top spot. V-103 averaged 8.3 and ranked No. 1 the first six months of 2015. They dropped slightly to 7.7 in 2016 for the same time period, falling to second.

R&B station Kiss 104.1 has had its strongest stretch of ratings in its history. Averaging 6.2 a year ago over the first half of 2015, Kiss has averaged an impressive 7.5 so far this year, coming in a solid third.

Here are breakdowns based on genre. I do want to note that most stations don’t care about the overall ratings. They are usually laser focused on one or two specific demographic breakdowns such as 25-54 women or 18-34. But overall numbers do provide an apples-to-apples comparison with the entire market and what direction each station is trending.

R&B/hip-hop

V-103 and Kiss 104.1 are neck and neck in overall listeners, as noted earlier.

V-103 remained the top dog among 25 to 54 years olds among all stations every month. But its hold on 18 to 34 year olds wavered in the spring as the station fell to No. 2 in April, May and June behind Hot 107.9. Ryan Cameron and Wanda Smith in that younger demo averaged a 7.96 rating during the first six months of 2016, down from 11 rating during the first six months a year ago. That’s a drop of 28 percent. That landed the show third behind No. 2 show Rickey Smiley (Hot) at 8.48 and leader Bert Weiss (Q100) at 8.68.

Kiss 104.1 saw its 25-54 ratings jump 22 percent year over year, ranking third in the market. What’s even more astounding is morning host Tom Joyner’s bounce: up a whopping 46 percent. The indefatigable 65-year-old syndicated radio vet drew even better 25-54 numbers than the station as a whole with a 6.4 rating among 25 to 54 year olds.

Rickey Smiley hopes to show his personal and behind the scenes work life on "Rickey Smiley For Real" debuting November 10 on TV One. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Rickey Smiley has plenty to smile about when it comes to Atlanta ratings lately. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Hot 107.9 also had a solid 2016. It averaged a 4.8 rating this first half of 2016, up from 3.8, ranking seventh overall. In its target 18 to 34 demo, the station leapt to No. 1 in the market, up 17 percent with an 8.73 rating vs. 6.56 in 2015 in the time period. Smiley, the morning host, saw an even stronger jump: 77 percent more listening year over year.

Majic 107.5, which ceded its 97.5 signal earlier this year to Boom, has been on a downward slope for the past 20 months even before that event happened. The R&B/hip-hop station slipped another 13 percent year over year to a 3.85 rating the first six months of 2016 vs. the same period in 2015. In June, the station hit its lowest ratings since Arbitron began using people meters in 2009 with a 3.2. As recently as October, 2013, the station pulled in a 7.1 rating and averaged a 6.8 rating in 2013. Despite Steve Harvey‘s success on TV, his ratings on Majic are now lagging behind the rest of the station. His numbers fell 41 percent year over year in the 25-to-54 demo to a 3.2 from 5.38.

Streetz 94.5, the scrappy hip-hop newcomer, maintained its ratings year over year, with a 1.72. Among 18-34 year olds, its target demo, it grew from a 3.7 to a 4.3, placing it in the top 10.

Then there were two old-school hip-hop stations, now both about 19 months old and virtually tied in ratings.

A year ago, OG 97.9 dominated, averaging a 1.3 rating on a limited signal. At the time, Boom at 102.9 averaged a 0.76.

Now, Boom at the stronger 97.5 signal is more competitive, up to a 1.25, just behind OG 97.95 at 1.29.

Jazz station Clark Atlanta’s 91.9 pulls in consistent numbers nowadays, averaging a 1.22 rating, up from 1.17 in the first half of 2015.

Old School 87.7, a new R&B oldies station, drew a 0.97 rating, with growth since its launch earlier in the year. It was at a 1.3 rating in June. Porsche Foxx just joined the station as its first on-air jock.

News/talk

Scott Slade with Clark Howard in the final two hours of the Careathon. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Scott Slade with Clark Howard in the final two hours of the 2015 Careathon. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

As noted earlier, WSB has dominated the news/talk scene all day long. The station does skew older than most music stations. With 25-to-54 year olds, it averaged a 6.38, good for fourth overall. Its most dominant numbers come in the morning, with Scott Slade ranked No. 1 among all stations with an 8.43 rating, up from 7.18 during the same time period a year ago when he ranked third behind Ryan at V-103 and Bert at Q100.

NPR-affiliated 90.1/WABE-FM has been performing fairly steadily year over year, averaging a 3 rating, up slightly from 2.92 during the first half of 2015. But underlying that is a major shift in demographics. The station switched to all talk mid-days instead of classical music in early 2015 and the station now skews significantly younger. Ratings among 25-54 in the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. slot is up 59 percent to 2.01 from 1.27. “Morning Edition” is up 9 percent while “All Things Considered” is up 35 percent in that 25-54 demo. Ratings among 18 to 34 year olds is up an impressive 69 percent year over year. Although there is an effort by classical music fans to convince management to switch back to classical during the day, the improved ratings among younger listeners are going to make it tougher to win that argument.

WABE has also survived even with a two-year-old competitor at 88.5/WRAS-FM, which runs NPR-related talk during the day courtesy of Georgia Public Broadcasting.  The station under GPB’s watch is seeing significant progress from a much lower base of listeners. A year ago, it averaged a 0.417, about one-eighth the size of WABE. In 2016 so far, its rating is averaging 0.617, up 48 percent. Its audience is now one-fifth the size of WABE. That’s progress but it proves the station can exist without hurting WABE.

NewsRadio 106.7 was flat, averaging a 1.4 rating, about the same as a year ago (1.47). The Kimmer draws the largest ratings, more than doubling that of the rest of the station.

640/WGST-AM is an afterthought, averaging a 0.35, same as a year ago.

Pop 

The most interesting battle now is in the pop world where four stations are now all clustered together. In June, they were separated by just 0.4 ratings points, led by B98.5 (sixth at 4.8), Power 96.1 (eighth at 4.5), Star 94 (tied for ninth at 4.3) and Q100 (same as Star with 4.3). The race in the 25-54 world is about the same, with Q100 in the lead at 4.75, followed by Power and Star tied at 4.62 and Star not too far behind at 4.2.  Among 18 to 34 year olds, Power was on top (6.78), followed by Q100 (6.22), B98.5 (5.12) and Star (4.35).

B98.5 was for a long stretch the dominant leader in overall ratings but had to cede that title to Power 96.1 this year. The pop station dropped from a 6.02 rating to a 4.82 rating. It also lost ground in 18 to 34 and 25 to 54 year olds. The Tad and Melissa morning show, which changed its male host earlier this year, took a pounding, dropping 35 percent among 25 to 54 year olds. The station’s mid-day ranking fell from second to fourth among all stations.

Power 96.1 climbed to the top in overall ratings and remained the pop market alpha dog among 18 to 34 year olds. Its ratings held more or less steady year over year, with a 4.87 rating, down from 5.07 during the same period in 2015. Its PK and Riley morning show, which also swapped out male hosts earlier this year, saw 16 percent growth year over year in its target 18 to 34 demo, finishing fourth overall with a 7.25 rating.

Q100 slipped a bit, dropping 11 percent, from 4.43 to 3.93. The Bert Show shed 23 percent of listening year over year to a still leading 8.67. It lost a third of its 25 to 54 year old ratings, from 9.42 to 6.32. Much of the loss came soon after Jeff Dauler left in November. Bert started rebuilding ratings in May.

Star 94.1 was the only pop station to see a rise in overall ratings, from 3.23 to 3.87, just a nip behind Q100. It has seen the most changes, adding a new morning show with Dauler and Jenn Hobby in February. The morning numbers began rising after their arrival and the show had its best monthly results to date in June, when it pulled in a 4.4 rating among 25 to 54 year olds and a 5.6 among 18 to 34 year olds. Both ranked seventh. Star hasn’t seen ratings like those in that time slot in years.

Country

94.9/The Bull remained the leader of the country pack in the first half of 2016 but its lead narrowed sharply from a year ago. Its ratings fell from 4.88 to 4.08. Among 25-54 year olds, the drop was slightly larger: 5.07 to 3.9, down 23 percent.

Kicks 101.5 was fairly flat year over year to date. Its overall ratings edged up 3 percent to 3.58 from 3.45 and its 25-54 ratings were identical to its overall ratings: 3.58 vs. 3.62 in the first half of 2015.

107.1/WTSH-FM in Rome is a big player in the northwest quadrant of metro Atlanta. Over the entire area, it averaged a 0.9 in 2016, up from 0.6 in 2015.

Christian

Christian contemporary pop station Fish 104.7 had one of its strongest spring bounces in its history. It started soft in January with a 3.1 ratings but had nearly doubled its numbers by June, finishing with a 6.1, good for fourth place overall. That’s its best monthly rating performance since people meters were introduced in early 2009. Its 6.3 among 18 to 34 year olds was good for third place.

Gospel station Praise 102.5’s performance was nearly the same in 2016 as it was in 2015, finishing both halves with a solid 4.3 rating, landing just in the top 10 each year.

Joy 93.3, which sounds similar to Fish, averaged a 1 rating, same as a year ago.

Sports talk

92.9/The Game is having its best half year to date, averaging a 2.47 overall rating. That’s up from 2.2 in the first half  of 2015. Better yet, ratings have held up into June relatively speaking despite the seasonal trough in sports news. Last year, the station fell from a 3 to a 1.3 from January to June. This year, it fell from 3.4 to 2.2, not nearly as bad a drop. Among 25 to 54 year olds, the falloff was even more modest; 3.2 to 2.7. Last year, the Game fell from 3 to a 1.7 in those months.

There is another sports talk station. But I’m not allowed to mention them or their ratings because they do not subscribe to Nielsen Audio. The best I can say is this particular station is having a much stronger 2016 than 2015 as well. The Game’s morning show tends to beat this station’s Rude Awakening in the broader 25-54 demo (the station cares about 25-54 men but I don’t have those numbers.). In mid-days, the stations are virtually tied. In the afternoon, Dukes & Bell beats Chuck & Chernoff among 25-54 on average over the first six months.

Rock

97.1/The River has been steadily slipping in overall ratings the past two years. The classic hits station was No. 5 in the first half of 2014 with a 5.48 rating, fell to a 4.7 last year (eighth) and is now at a 4.33 over the first six months of 2016, dropping to 10th place. But there is good news: the station has had much stronger ratings among younger listeners than older ones, averaging a 4.7, up from 3.5 a year ago. Millennials like classic rock, too!

Rock 100.5  – which has been fully classic rock for about two years – has been consistent over that time, rising from a 1.9 average rating in the first half of 2014 to a 1.97 last year to a 2.02 this year. It usually ranks around 18th to 20th place in the market. The Bailey & Southside morning show averaged a 3.47 among 18 to 34 year olds, down from 3.73 during the first half of 2015.  It was flat among 25 to 54 year olds, averaging a 3.12 vs. 3.08 in 2015.

Radio 105.7,  which offers a mix of rock from the 1990s to today, saw its numbers rise a bit, from 2.4 in the first half of 2015 to a 2.68 rating in 2016. Its 25-54 ratings (3.23) and 18-34 (3.7) are better than its overall ratings, indicating a younger-skewing station.

The revived 99X – focused on new rock – has been a non-factor on a modest signal, averaging a 0.183 share.

Other

El Patron. This station has seen its ratings decline sharply over the years though I’m not sure if that’s an issue with Nielsen’s ability to get Hispanics to wear people meters or a true decline in interest. The station’s 0.9 rating in June was by far its worst ever. A year earlier, it was at 1.7. In 2013, the station averaged a 2.3.

B98.5, WSB, Kiss, the River and WTSH-FM, as well as The Atlanta Journal Constitution, are all part of Cox Media Group. 

Top 32 radio stations in June, 2016

1. WSB

2. Kiss

3. V-103

4. Fish 107.4

5. 94.9/The Bull

6. (tie) B98.5, Hot 107.9

8. Power 96.1

9. (tie) Star 94.1, Q100

11. 97.1/The River

12. Praise 102.5

13. Kicks 101.5

14. Majic 107.5

15. Radio 105.7

16. 90.1/WABE-FM

17. 92.9/The Game

18. Rock 100.5

19. (tie) Streetz 94.5, a sports talk station that doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen so I can’t acknowledge them by name

21. NewsRadio 106.7

22. (tie) OG 97.9, Old School 87.7

24. (tie) Clark Atlanta 91.9 (jazz), 107.1/WTSH-FM (country), Boom 97.5

27. Joy 93.3

28. 105.3/El Patron

29. 88.5/WRAS-FM

30 (tie) V-103 stream, WAOK-AM, WGKA-AM

Top 15 25-54 year olds

1- V-103

2- Hot

3- Kiss

4- WSB

5- Q100

6- Fish

7- Star

8 – Bull

9 – Power

10- B98.5

11- River

12 – Praise

13- (tie) Radio/ Majic

15- Kicks

Top 15 18-34 year olds

1- Hot

2- V-103

3- Fish

4- Power

5- (tie) Star/Q100

7- Kiss

8- Bull

9- B98.5

10- Radio

11- River

12 (tie) WABE/Streetz

14- Praise

15- WSB

Top 10 morning shows overall, June 2016

1- Scott Slade WSB

2- Tom Joyner, Kiss

3- (tie) Ryan Cameron & Wanda Smith, V-103; Kevin & Taylor, Fish

5 (tie) Rickey Smiley, Hot; Bert Show, Q100

7- Jason Pullman & Kristen Gates, Bull

8- Morning Edition, WABE

9- PK & Riley, Power

10 – (tie)  Tad & Melissa, B98.5; Steve Harvey, Majic

Top 10 morning shows 25-54

1- Bert Show, Q100

2- Ryan Cameron/Wanda Smith, V-103

3- Scott Slade, WSB

4- Rickey Smiley, Hot

5- Tom Joyner, Kiss

6- Kevin & Taylor, Fish

7- (tie) Jeff & Jenn, Star 94.1, Morning Edition, WABE

9- Jason Pullman & Kristen Gates, 94.9/The Bull

10- Steve Harvey, Majic

Top 10 morning shows, 18-34

1- Rickey Smiley, Hot

2- Bert Show, Q100

3 (tie) Ryan Cameron/Wanda Smith, V-103, Tom Joyner, Kiss

5- PK & Riley, Power

6- Kevin & Taylor, Fish

7- Jeff & Jenn, Star

8- Morning Edition, WABE

9- Jason Pullman & Kristen Gates, the Bull

10- Scott Slade, WSB

Top 10 mid-day overall, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

1- WSB (Herman Cain/Rush Limbaugh)

2- Kiss (Sasha the Diva)

3- (tie) V-103 (Ramona DeBreaux), B98.5 (Tripp West)

5- Fish (Parks Stamper)

6- The Bull (Angie Ward)

7- The River (jockless)

8 (tie)  Power (Terry J/Ryan Seacrest), Star (Heather Branch)

10- Kicks (Ali Mac)

Top 10 afternoons (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) overall

1- WSB (Sean Hannity/Erick Erickson)

2- Kiss (Art Terrell/Roy Wood)

3- V-103 (Big Tigger/Greg Street)

4 (tie) Fish (Beth Bacall), Bull (Lance Houston)

6- B98.5 (Madison James)

7- Hot (Mz Shyneka)

8- Q100 (Johnny O)

9- Power (Ryan Seacrest/Maddox)

10- Star (Drex, Cassiday & Tingle, who were let go on July 16)

SOURCE: Nielsen Audio, June 2016, actually covering May 19-June 15 because each ratings period is just four weeks long, meaning the month in question isn’t really the month in question by the time the middle of the year rolls around.


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