Wednesday, September 13, 2017


This week we’ve been examining Nielsen Audio estimates from August 2017 and comparing then with similar data from August 2014. We use Nielsen’s metric “Weekly Cumulative Persons 6+” because it easily can be converted into a membership percentage. Also, the weekly cume is the total number of people who have heard at least five minutes of the station during the past week.

Given that people using radio has been declining one to two percent a year in the past few years, gains of weekly listeners by a station shows that the station is going against the grain. When a station increases its weekly listeners over past years, it is a sign of strength.  Therefore today’s news about the majority of Triple A and Jazz music stations is particularly sweet.

Of the 16 Triple A stations with 2014 data, 12 (75%) had more estimated weekly listeners in August 2017 than they did in August 2014.

We had 2014 data for 14 Jazz stations. Nine (64%) increased their number of weekly listeners over the three-year period.


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Americana/Rockabilly/Alt Country KDRP a/k/a The Sun continues to make inroads into the Austin market. The Sun is actually five FM signals joined into one station.  

The Sun makes things happen because of their hyper-local approach and wonderful curation of the tunes. Austin listeners continue to flock to The Sun, because they’ve got the hot secret sauce in ample supply.

KDRP’s success is apparently not hurting KUTX because they keep adding new weekly listeners.

WYMS seems to have found their groove in Milwaukee. Their number of weekly listeners is now the highest ever. WYEP in Pittsburg and KXT in Dallas were up nicely.

WMOT, serving Nashville, is the other rated Americana station.  Though their number of estimated weekly listeners is not huge, they seem to be making progress.  Tip to the folks at WMOT: Listen to The Sun in Austin and become messed in the Nashville music scene.

KTBG – The Bridge – has become the go-to music discovery station in Kansas City. They are the market’s only Triple A voice. Even though they lack full coverage of the metro area, they continue to gain weekly listeners.

The Bridge [link] exists because of Jon Hart. Hart is the GM who took the station from being an also-ran in tiny Warrensburg, Missouri and engineered new ownership by KCPT-TV, Kansas City’s PBS station. The changed helped KTBG move closer Kansas City. Hart was the person who made it happen and now he is building a metro presence.

Jon Hart
 Hart recently told John Schoenberger of All Access Media about the challenge:

“We have to create a unique radio station that matters so much to the listeners that they're compelled to fight through whatever signal issues they may experience. 

Additionally, we have high-quality streaming available. 
The station's fundraising has never been better.


Owned by the Minneapolis School District, KBEM has increased its estimated weekly listeners in nearly every ratings book for the past couple of years. Many of the speed-bumps have been eliminated and the music choices seem more focused. I can keep KBEM on for hours.

Travis Ryder, PD of KBEM, sent us an email with some of the reasons he feels have attracted more people to the station:

Travis Ryder
Great chart!

A few things I think are contributing to our success:

Our music director Kevin O’Connor has worked to pare down our library of less significant artists doing uninspired covers, and re-emphasize the truly remarkable pillars of our library, the architects of the jazz form past and present.  Play the hits, and the new music that matters!

We added evening programming that focuses on the future of jazz and the allied genres of funk and soul.  We’re playing edgier stuff that wouldn’t necessarily work within our mainstream daytime mix but has attracted new, substantial audiences.  We also strengthened and lengthened our Friday night blues block.  Both moves have turned weekday evenings into our leading AQH-share daypart.

Some nostalgia programs moved to Sundays from Saturday nights to make room for American Routes and a locally-hosted mainstream jazz mix.

I think we also saw a bump when Nielsen’s enhanced encoding algorithm went live.  The previous PPM tones weren’t favorable to bass solos and other quiet passages.

And we did a billboard campaign last August, with 15 conventional and 5 digital boards up around town.  I think that boosted awareness and sampling.  One of our major issues is low market awareness – a study we commissioned a few years back indicated only a quarter of our market population could name us as the jazz station!

Things aren’t working as well for WRTI and WRCJ.  Both stations have a dual format of Jazz and Classical that don’t seem to satisfy either groups of fans.

The other dual format station, KNKX (formerly KPLU) is doing much better with their NPR News and Jazz sound.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to note that while WYMS is up in Milwaukee, free-form WMSE's ratings are going into the toilet. Frankly, I'm surprised that MSE subscribes to the RRC--most college stations like them don't. Perhaps they feel that they want to take a shot at getting CPB grants and that they won't be tempted to go to formatted AAA to get that money.