Today is a tale of two noncom news stations in two cities where each station owns the NPR News franchise. WBEZ is the sole provider of NPR News in Chicago and WAMU does the same in Washington, DC. WAMU’s estimated weekly cumulative listeners keep rising but WBEZ’s weekly listeners have declined 152,000 in seven months.
Earlier this month we reported [link] on the decline of NPR News stations between March 2016 and September 2016 according to Nielsen Audio PPM estimates. We found this pattern at several big NPR News stations. WBEZ had some of the biggest losses. We used a six-month comparison to keep the analysis within election season. Theoretically NPR News stations have increased listening during hot news cycles. Apparently not all of them abide by this notion.
I feel that weekly cume is an important metric because it shows the overall circulation of a station. Station programmers tend to watch metrics derived from Average Quarter Hour (AQH) listening estimates. AQH is important. However, a pattern of fewer weekly listeners means fewer people are entering a station's “listener pool.” This can't be good news in the long run.
On the left is a chart showing WBEZ’s weekly cumulative listeners for the months of March through October 2016. I sent a copy of this chart to the programming and press folks at WBEZ for comment. We have not received a reply. If/when we hear from WBEZ we will update this post.
Earlier this month we attempted several times to get a comment from WBEZ and no one replied. It is hard to believe that (1.) WBEZ doesn’t know about this trend, and (2.) WBEZ isn’t concerned about it.
Here are the October 2016 numbers for all subscribing noncom stations in Chicago, plus one-month trends.
WAMU REACHES TOP SPOTS IN WASHINGTON, DC RATINGS
Good news keeps coming for WAMU from Nielsen Audio. In the October estimates WAMU had 861,400 weekly cumulative listeners, up 3% from the prior month. Perhaps the biggest news was WAMU’s AQH share: 9.6%, up from 9.0% in September.
Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP had a 9.2% AQH share and a weekly cume of 1,186,600.
Folks should be aware that Nielsen and RRC discourages noncom stations from celebrating “wins” over commercial stations. Commercial broadcasters pay much more for the data than noncoms. Too much “we’re number one” lingo might raise concerns with commercial broadcasters such as Ginny Morris, the CEO of Hubbard.
Here are the October 2016 numbers for all subscribing noncom stations in DC, plus one-month trends. Note the nice up book for Classical WETA. Meanwhile CCM WGTS keeps losing cume.