Monday, August 15, 2016


Nielsen Audio’s Spring 2016 audience estimates showed notable gains in weekly listeners for the majority of Triple A/Rock and Jazz music stations compared to Spring 2015. The data, courtesy of the Radio Research Consortium (RRC), provides top-line information for publication. “Weekly cumulative listeners” is a key metric because it provides a snapshot of the total audience size.  (Scroll down to the ratings for Jazz music stations.)


Some station managers have said they don’t consider contemporary rock to be a viable format for them because they believe it doesn’t pay its way in medium and small markets. The top two full-time music stations – KWIR 89.7 The River and WNRN – prove this assumption is not true. According to financial documents on station websites, both stations are sustainable because of “listener sensitive” support: 67% of revenue in 2015 at KIWR and 81% at WNRN.

Strong underwriting revenue appears to be the key to financial stability.  Common wisdom is that younger listeners do not make pledges to the degree older listeners do to News and Classical music stations. So harvesting money from underwriting and events is crucial. Both KIWR and WNRN are deeply involved with their communities and solid track records of success for businesses.

The number of estimated weekly listeners grew at five of the eight full-time music stations between Spring 2015 and Spring 2016. The number of weekly listeners declined at three stations.

WXPN’s repeater station in Harrisburg – WXPH – shows the value of secondary markets. WEXT, Albany had a nice gain in weekly listeners. KJAC, Greeley and KVOQ’s translator in Fort Collins are new since Spring 2015.

You gotta love #10 on the list: spunky WSWI in Evansville, Indiana.  WSWI, aka The Edge, has a small audience that appears to be growing. WSWI’s music mix is similar to KIWR’s.  Both stations concentrate on alternative and hard rock tunes popular with younger male listeners. Check out The Edge at [link].

There are several full-time Triple A stations that do not subscribe to the Nielsen ratings that likely have significant listening such as WAPS, Akron and WYCE, Grand Rapids.


There is Nielsen date available for five dual format Triple A stations in Diary markets. All of them combine music with the major NPR News magazines. The top two have very different histories and approaches.

WNCW, licensed to tiny Spindale, North Carolina, has been a leader in bluegrass and Appalachian music and culture for three decades. WNCW has a regional presence far greater than most stations. WNCW now rocks harder than they did in the past.

WOI-FM seems like it woke up from a long nap. Since several Iowa stations merged a decade ago to form Iowa Public Radio (IPR) some of the best frequencies, particularly powerful KUNI, Cedar Falls, now air NPR News and Triple A called Studio One.

Nine stations makeup the Studio One network. Studio One relies primarily on syndicated programming such as UnderCurrents in addition to NPR News.

Triple A industry folks are keeping a close watch on WRUR, Rochester.  Parent organization WXXI is in the process of acquiring an FM translator for NPR News WXXI-AM. This move may allow WRUR to become a full-time music station.



Most Jazz music stations are located in larger markets measured by Nielsen Audio PPM methodology. Each of the Diary market Jazz stations have a different approach to the music.  KGOU, Oklahoma City airs lots of Blues.  WAER, Syracuse has a more traditional music mix.

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KIOS had the largest gains in weekly listeners in Diary markets that air jazz.  In many ways KIOS reminds me of KPLU (soon to become KNKX) because of strong commitments to both news and jazz programming.  

KIOS, owned by the Omaha Public School District, is becoming a strong news presence without sacrificing its Jazz heritage.   

School district stations often have conflicts with their licensees.  KIOS, like WAPS in Akron and KHNC in Seattle, are exceptions because the school boards let professionals operate the stations with little interference.

There is not data available to assess full-time Jazz stations in Diary markets.

Monday-Sunday 6AM-Midnight Persons 12+
These data are provided for use by Nielsen subscribers ONLY,
in accordance with RRC's limited license with Nielsen Inc. Data Copyright Nielsen Inc. Format distinctions are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC.

1 comment:

  1. Triple A & Jazz are magnificent formats. But, like true art, CURATION is essential. Station self-control in playlist, presentation and promotion needs to be addressed to fully benefit from great music on clean signals. Thanks, Ken! Clark