Fall Talk Radio Ratings: Bernadette Postmortem In a Down Book

The Fall 2015 Anchorage radio ratings books have been released. Who is up, who is down, and how did former KFQD morning show host Bernadette Wilson do in her final ratings period before being replaced by Mark Colavecchio?

Before I get into all those tantalizing details let me first give my standard disclaimer on reporting on radio and TV ratings:

Radio ratings are a bit like trying to understand the science behind a Ouija board. The numbers can be chopped up, combed over, and analysed in a manner that fairly justifies almost any conclusion. What follows is my analysis based on my own experience in radio and talking to people behind the scenes in the industry.

Radio ratings are published by Arbitron Inc, who surveys the Anchorage market twice a year, once in the spring (late March-early June) and again in the fall (mid September-early December). The most recent ratings cover this past fall’s ratings period.

Ratings are discussed in terms of market share. For those of you not familiar with media speak, the “share” represents the portion of those listening to radio that hour who listened a given station. So if 1% of people listening to radio right now are listening to KBYR they would get a 1.0 share.

When it comes to news-talk radio, KENI wins the beauty contest with  the 12+ ratings demographic . For all listeners aged 12 and up, KENI went up from a 4.4 share to a 5.0 share, while their primary news-talk competitor KFQD dropped from a 4.8 to a 3.9 share. That gives you a sense of the broadest possible listenership, in all demographics, all day. It is also completely disregarded by the industry for anything other than bragging rights.

For more pertinent information let’s narrow our focus to the 25 to 54-year-olds and look at how individual shows scored.

Overall, Fall ‘15 was a down ratings book for talk radio. Every radio show was either steady or down from the Spring ‘15 ratings. That isn’t unusual. For reasons no one can give a good explanation for, the fall ratings period tends to be good for “music” and the spring period good for “talk.” The graphic below highlights KFQD’s ratings to show this up-down ratings action.

radio ratings

KFQD (AM 750 &FM 103.7)
Bernadette Wilson, whose 8:30-11AM mid-morning show was dropped by KFQD just before the new year posted decent numbers in her final ratings book. She held steady at a 2.9 share. Were she still on the air that wouldn’t be a good enough number to make anyone celebrate, but holding your numbers in a down book is respectable achievement. Had KFQD kept Wilson it would have been interesting to see how her ratings might have fared in the coming spring’s friendlier ratings period.

From a ratings perspective KFQD’s 2-5PM slot is a bigger concern. As we reported after the last ratings period, The Dave Stieren Show continues to to be mired in pedestrian ratings. The host once capable of regularly posting 8-10 shares remained at the 3.1 he posted in the spring. That puts the show only a hair above what Wilson scored in the morning, but as I noted with her ratings, holding steady in a down book isn’t necessarily a bad result.

Emailed for comment KFQD program director Joe Campbell said “I stand by my recent a.m. show swap…no other big moves or changes are planned going forward for any of the local programming. I’ll be taking a long look at our syndicated lineup and might shift things a bit.”

KENI (AM 650)
The long running 5:40-9AM morning program with host Rick Rydell took a hit dropping from a 7.1 share down to 3.8. That still makes himRadio Top 5 number #1 in the market and, have I mentioned this was a down book for talk? Rydell’s numbers aren’t great the time out, but his two book average is still a respectable 5.6 share. All indications are he’s on track to keep going strong for the foreseeable future.

In the late-afternoon 4-6PM show Mike Porcaro came down from a great spring rating of 5.1 to a 1.9 share. That is more in-line with his historical performance. His two book average is still a 3.5 share, notably higher than competitor Dave Stieren’s 3.1. I’m sure KENI management is pretty happy with that.

KENI program director Mark Murphy has not respond to a request for comment on his station’s ratings.

Everyone Else
With all due respect to KBYR, KOAN, etc. only KENI and KFQD scored ratings indicating they are relevant. Even The Michael Dukes Show on KBYR, which I think is pretty darn good, didn’t register a single tenth of a share in any of his three hours.