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Slicing and Dicing Utica-Rome Ratings

UTICA-ROME — Even though Arbitron didn’t release its Spring 2010 ratings estimates to the general public (the market’s actually been embargoed since the Fall 2008 book), Arbitron’s Fair Use policy says media can report on certain ratings data — as long as the data is provided by subscribers.  That’s just what happened, so for the first time in over a year, we have a snapshot of the radio battle in the Mohawk Valley.

Roser Communications Network says it is especially pleased with ratings gains posted by its Kiss-FM duo, simulcast on WSKS and WSKU.  Sales Manager Grant Roser tells CNYRadio.com the CHR combo saw P12+ listenership rise from 6.9 to 8.0, putting the station in third place overall.

Roser acknowledges that perennial market leader Big Frog 104 (WFRG), owned by competitor Townsquare Media, is still the leader, with a 13.9 rating among listeners 12+, but claims Townsquare’s AC station, Lite 98.7 (WLZW), actually lost listeners, dropping from 13.5 Spring 2009 to 11.1 Fall 2009, then 8.9 for the Spring 2010 survey.  Despite the drop in P12+ ratings, WLZW retained second place.

Of course, whenever Arbitron ratings are released to the public, CNYRadio.com always points out that P12+ estimates are simply an overall look at the ratings, which may not necessarily evaluate a station’s performance within specific target demographics.

Bill McAdams, operations manager at Townsquare Media, says, “we position Lite 98.7 to the 35-54 female demographic.”  While CNYRadio.com is not allowed to publish ratings for specific demographics beyond Persons 12+, McAdams says WLZW’s cume listenership in its target segment has increased 19% over the past year, “making them #1.”  McAdams also provided shares specifically for the women 25-54 demographic, showing WLZW in first place, even ahead of WFRG.  Sister station Oldiez 96 (WODZ) is next, with WSKS/WSKU in fourth place, followed by Galaxy Hot AC Mix 102.5 (WUMX).

Townsquare also provided audience share estimates for Persons 12+ which differed slightly from ratings provided by Roser.  The top five rankings were mostly the same, with the exception of Townsquare’s account showing Galaxy rocker WOUR in third place, pushing WSKS/WSKU and WODZ down one rank each, respectively.  (Data from Roser showed WOUR in sixth place, behind Townsquare’s WIBX.)

McAdams believes Kiss-FM’s increases “seem to be mostly in the younger demo of 12-17.”  McAdams acknowledges that the CHR pair’s cume did increase by about 900 listeners from fall to spring, but “in the 12-24 and 18-34 demos, their cume dropped from the previous 2 surveys.”

Still, RCN president Ken Roser says he’s proud of Kiss-FM’s increase in the ratings, praising his staff’s “concentration on being a local station and continued fun promotions that involve the listeners.”

Management at Arjuna Broadcasting, owners of 92.7 The Drive (WXUR) and sports-talk WNRS; and Galaxy Communications, owners of WUMX, classic rocker WOUR,  modern rocker K-Rock (WKLL) and ESPN Radio affiliates WTLB, WRNY and WIXT, were also invited to comment for this story, but both declined to provide comment about Arbitron as neither subscribe to Arbitron’s services.

However, Mimi Griswold, VP of Programming for Galaxy, told CNYRadio.com “we do subscribe to Eastlan and the results in the Spring survey were great for the Galaxy radio stations!”

Eastlan’s ratings for the market were released in mid-July, with somewhat different results.  While WFRG still had the largest audience among Persons 12+, other results were markedly different from Arbitron’s survey.  But it’s worth noting that Eastlan’s survey dates and methodology (telephone) differ from Arbitron’s dates and methodology (diarykeeping).  And again, Persons 12+ numbers are just an overall glimpse at the audience, not necessarily an evaluation of individual performance in each station’s core target demographics.

Disclosure: CNYRadio.com Editor Peter Naughton has been a part-time every-other-weekend DJ at WLZW since November 2009, and as a result, CNYRadio.com has included a disclosure statement on any story involving WLZW or other Townsquare Media stations.  Roser Communications was first to offer to provide CNYRadio.com with ratings data for this story; CNYRadio.com told Roser we would run a story only if other stations in the market would be given a fair opportunity to contribute their own comment for the story prior to its publication.

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