Thursday, March 10, 2016


If you work in noncommercial radio, today’s post will probably make your day. I compared the number of weekly cumulative listeners between Fall 2000 and Fall 2015 for stations that exemplify each of the five major noncom formats. I am truly amazed by the results. Many noncom radio stations have experienced solid, even dramatic, growth in estimated weekly listeners over the past 15 years.

Important note: The 2000 data comes from Arbitron via Diary methodology. The 2015 data comes from Nielsen Audio via PPM methodology (except where noted). The two methods are very different.  Some of the comparisons may reflect changes due to the different methodologies.

Here is the big news, of the 28 stations I examined 24 of them (85%) increased weekly listeners between 2000 and 2015. Some of gains were truly amazing: KPCC in LA grew 279%, KQAC in Portland grew 141%, KKJZ in LA grew 97%, KEXP in Seattle/Tacoma grew 141%, and WPOZ in Orlando grew an awesome 327%

To make this an apples-to-apples comparison I looked at noncom stations that had “pure” formats in 2000 with one exception noted below. Scroll down for comments on stations in each of the five major noncom formats.

The 2000 data preceded American Public Media's (APM) operation of KPCC. WNYC-AM’s big drop in weekly listeners is probably due to erosion of overall AM listening. A friend of mine in Pittsburgh told me the old WDUQ is out-performing WESA.  It turns out he correct.

 Industry observers know that KQAC is a far better sounding station that its predecessor KBPS. The margin of growth in weekly listeners is remarkable, a sign of KQAC’s excellent approach.

 KKJZ has shown marvelous growth in weekly listeners since it upgraded from KLON.

 Take a look at the growth of weekly listeners at WFPK in Louisville. Great programming increases music discovery.

There were fewer CCM stations that subscribed to the ratings in 2000.

Provided by RRC, Inc. for use by subscribers only
© Radio Research Consortium, Inc. // //
These data are provided for use by Nielsen Audio subscribers ONLY, in accordance with
RRC's limited license with Nielsen Audio.
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 12+ (Diary markets)
Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 6+ (PPM markets)
Data Copyright Nielsen Audio.
Format designations are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

Fall 2000 Arbitron estimates are Persons 12+
Monday-Sunday 6AM-12M © Arbitron

1 comment:

  1. Cool analysis, Ken! Is there enough data to do something similar for "college radio" stations, too?

    (For purposes of discussion, I would define "college radio" more as a format than an ownership schema, and would specifically exclude any CPB-funded station. But the licensee should be an accredited institution of higher education whenever possible.)