Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Today we begin the first of four days looking at almost all of the noncommercial stations in PPM markets. We are comparing Nielsen PPM estimated weekly listeners from June 2018 with data from June 2016 to provide two-year trends.

On Wednesday we will look at Triple A, rock and Americana stations, plus Jazz and Urban stations. On Thursday and Friday we will examine all NPR News/Talk stations in PPM markets.


We are tracking 26 full-time Classical music stations and 6 dual format stations that air part-time Classical music. We have comparative data for 24 of the 26 full-time Classical stations.

The number of estimated weekly listeners to the 24 full-time stations dropped by around 4% between June 2016 and June 2018. There were 4,473,700 weekly listeners in 2018 compared with 4,651,100 in 2018, a drop of 177,400 estimated weekly listeners.

Of the 24 stations, 10 (42%) increased their weekly listeners in June 2018 over June 2016. 14 stations (58%) had fewer estimated weekly listeners in June 2018 that they had in June 2016.

 KSJN, Minneapolis had the largest numeric gain, adding 58,400 estimated weekly listeners.   

WSMR, Tampa, had the largest percentage gain, up 54% from June 2016 to June 2018.

KDFC, San Francisco, had the largest numeric decrease. They lost 70,100 estimated weekly listeners in the past two years.  WFCL, Nashville, had the largest percentage loss, down 54% from June 2016 to June 2018.

UPDATE: We missed KSJN, Minneapolis-St, Paul, on an earlier version of this chart. KSJN's data are now included in the chart on the left.  Thank you John Birge from MPR for catching our error.

Also re this: “WQXR, New York, had the largest numeric gain, adding 54,200 estimated weekly listeners.” That honor can now go to KSJN, adding 58,400.  Tah-dah!!  -- It was a good June, wasn’t it?  KSJN FM share was 2.7 and, with the addition of its first-ever stream share of 0.3, Classical MPR hit a combined total of 3.0. 

Congratulations to everyone at MPR Classical!

The Top Ten stations had almost 77% of the full-time Classical music estimated weekly listeners.   

The top four stations (KUSC, WQXR, WETA and KDFC) had around 45% of all of the estimated weekly listeners to all of the full-time Classical stations.

The two commercial Classical stations, WRR and WFMT, had approximately the same number of weekly listeners in June 2018 that they had in June 2016.

Nine of the ten Classical music stations between 11th and 20th had just over 19% of all of the full-time Classical music estimated weekly listeners. 

WQED, Pittsburgh did not subscribe to the Nielsen ratings in June 2016.

In this group of stations, KVOD, Denver had the largest gain of estimated weekly listeners, up 7%. WCPE, Raleigh-Durham had the largest drop in weekly listeners, down 30% in two years.

The final group, Classical music stations with smallest percentage of estimated weekly listeners, comprise around 5% of all of the full-time estimated weekly listeners. 

WJMF, Providence, did not subscribe to the Nielsen ratings in June 2016. KVTI, Seattle, is a repeater of Northwest Public Radio’s Classical channel based in Pullman, Washington.


Anyone who needs additional proof that most dual-format stations aren’t performing well should look at the chart on the left. Four of the six stations in this category lost double-digit percentages of estimated weekly listeners between June 2016 and June 2018.

Two of the stations, KANU, Lawrence, Kansas and WFCR, Amherst, Massachusetts are located in markets where Nielsen Audio uses Diary methodology. Estimated weekly listeners in their home metro areas are not included in the totals.


  1. Duel formatted stations make their audiences "feel good" and happy. They still want to buck the trend and not be like those "commercial" stations.

  2. Since your highlighting KSJN, Minnesota Public Radio was really among the first if not the first to embrace narrow casting and acquired a duopoly before the FCC made it legal years later, but MPR was a special case since they would not monopolize a market or whatever.

    People who really know their radio history will remember that KSJN 2.0 was the home of the legendary WLOL-FM which had a successful run in the CHR/Top 40 format in the 1980's, and during 1982 it was the only FM CHR station. The only true competitor WLOL would have would be KDWB when they embraced the FM band in 1983 and stayed a CHR at 101.3 ever since. KDWB was able to captaize when WLOL programing got stale, and while WLOL had a chance to bounce back with a Rhythmic leaning to their playlist (based on the success of such stations like KPWR and WQHT) but Emmis Broadcasting's finances would put an end to WLOL-FM.

    Ironically WLOL-FM did broadcast a Classical Music format prior to 1973.