Thursday, March 23, 2017


Historic.  That is how observers are describing WAMU’s continued success in Nielsen Audio’s February PPM estimates. Tom Taylor NOW [link] quotes ratings historian Chris Huff:

DC’s WAMU just set a record for the largest share ever recorded for a not-for-profit outlet in any PPM market.

 All Access Media [link] added:  

For the fifth time in the last seven surveys, WAMU topped the double-digit mark 25-54. This time it reached its highest peak in over a year. WTOP remained at #2 though it lost a chunk of share. At last look, the gap between the two spoken-word stations stood at a little over four shares!

WAMU’s success versus WTOP is a big deal in the media biz.  WTOP, owned by Minneapolis-based Hubbard Broadcasting, is often the top billing station in the nation with $65 million in annual commercial revenue. WTOP remains number one in estimated weekly cumulative listeners (1,119,900) but WAMU (873,400) seems to be closing the gap.

The strong performances by NPR News/Talk stations come at a time when future federal funding via CPB is under attack.  Tom Taylor opines:

New cumes are coming to many not-for-profit stations in Nielsen PPM markets, and those new listeners could come in very handy as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting faces being “zeroed out” of the federal budget. If the CPB is eliminated, that won’t crash the large-market stations with substantial donor bases and sophisticated fundraising. It’s the rural operators who may be on the bubble.
KEN SAYS: Taylor is correct but if stations in smaller markets lose CPB funding it could indirectly impact WAMU. NPR newsmagazines are vital for WAMU. Dues and fees from member stations provide much of NPR’s funding. Less money from these stations could result in cuts to NPR News. This fact of life is another reason NPR should revise it’s governance and revenue sources to be more competitive.

The same dynamic is occurring in Boston where a red-hot battle between WBUR and WGBH continues to draw more listeners to both stations. WGBH (4.7) now leads WBUR (4.4) in AQH Share. Both stations trail CBS’s all-news WBZ-AM, but if listening to WBUR and WGBH is combined, they would likely surpass WBZ.

In Seattle-Tacoma both KUOW and KNKS gained estimated weekly listeners compared with January. Bonneville’s excellent commercial news/talk station KIRO-FM (5.1) trails KUOW’s AQH share (6.7) but KIRO still has a larger weekly cume (447,000). Meanwhile, KVTI continues to gain estimated listeners. KVTI is a repeater of Northwest Public Radio’s Classical format originating from Pullman, Washington.

NPR News/Talk is also doing very well at KNOW in the Twin Cities. Estimated weekly listeners there are approaching half a million when the broadcast signal and streaming audio numbers are combined. 

CBS’s heritage news/talk station WCCO-AM, (274,800 weekly listeners) trails KNOW by a large margin.

Classical music at KSJN keeps rising. Music stations 89.3 The Current (KCMP – Triple A), CCM KTIS and Urban Hits KMOJ also increased the number of weekly listeners compared with January.

KCFR lost some ground in Denver-Boulder. 

However, the biggest story from the Front Range is the strong showing by Triple A KJAC 105.5 The Colorado Sound

In February, KJAC had more estimated weekly listeners in Denver-Boulder than sister NPR News station KUNC. KJAC and KUNC originate from Greeley, sixty miles north of Denver. GM Neil Best is likely smiling today.

1 comment:

  1. It'll be interesting to see what happens (or what may already be happening) to WAMU now that Diane Rehm is retired and her show's been replaced by "1A". I haven't listened to it yet, but I've heard it's quite good...albeit rather different from "TDRS" in formatics and, obviously, in the sound of its host (Joshua Johnson, who is African-American, vs Diane Rehm, who is white and has spasmodic dysphonia).

    I think the February PPM numbers would include a sample period when "1A" was already on the air, right? Although it's probably a bit too earlier to really measure whether "1A" is doing better/worse in the ratings than "TDRS" did.

    Either way, it's a really impressive showing.