For the past several years NPR News/Talk KQED has been the number news station (and number one overall) in the Bay Area. That status changed with the release of the Nielsen Audio PPM ratings for May.
KQED had taken the lead over KCBS in average-quarter-hour (AQH) share just after the November 2016 election. They stayed in the top spot for over two years. (KCBS has been the top station in estimated weekly listeners during the entire period.)
When things like this happen, observers ask whether: 1. Did KCBS get better? 2. Did KQED get worse? 3. Or are these two stations so different that it is hard to compare them?
We want to believe it is reason number three. But without a doubt, KCBS is performing better lately.
Take a look at KCBS’s website [link].
It is firmly focused on the benefits for listeners.
KCBS has never been a “personality” station but their new hires, such as Bob Butler, bring serious reporting skills and NPR-ish style.
Spark News looked at the trend lines for both stations starting with PPM data from before the 2016 election.
KQED had upward momentum through 2017 and 2018, but things have changed more recently.
Both stations had their lowest AQH shares in April 2016 but KQED peaked in April 2018. It appears that KCBS is peaking now.
In the April PPM ratings, KQED’s estimated weekly listeners slipped to their lowest level in three years.
KCBS also has lost cume during the same period.
KCBS's AQH is rising. That means the people who are listening are doing so for longer periods of time and listening more often.
At KQED, the AQH and cume are both dropping.
Maybe it is time to lift the hood and check the engine.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area there was little change from April to May for KDFC and KALW.
Meanwhile Pacifica’s flagship station, KPFA, had an awful performance in the May ratings. KPFA was the lowest rated station in the market.
Here are the May Nielsen PPM ratings for New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.