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F-M pop radio stations gaining listeners

FARGO – Fargo-Moorhead’s perception as a country music radio market might be coming to an end as the local pop stations continue to take a bigger share of listeners.

Nielsen’s spring ratings book, released Aug. 6, shows a big jump in the market share of Big 98.7 FM among listeners 12 and older from 6 a.m. to midnight since changing from a modern rock format to a pop station last August.

Nielsen recently acquired Arbitron, which formerly published ratings books each spring and fall.

Big 98.7 pulled in a share of 7.9 this spring, up 1.3 points since last fall and 3.6 since the spring of 2013, to now stand as the No. 3 station. A share is the percentage of listeners tuned to a station.

That’s still a ways below its pop music competitor and second-highest rated local station, Y94 FM, which had a 10.6 share this spring, down from 11.5 last fall and 10.7 last spring.

KFGO 790 AM continues to be the No. 1 station locally, commanding an 11.4 share that’s well above other news and talk stations here, including WDAY 970 AM (3.5 share) and The Flag 1100 AM (2.4 share).

But KFGO’s overall ratings have fallen several points since the spring of 2013 ratings book when it had a 15.5 share, while The Flag has grown some from its 0.9 share a year ago and WDAY has ticked up from its 3.0 share. WDAY, country station Thunder 106.1 FM and soft rock station 104.7 Mix FM all tied for the eighth-highest local share of 3.5.

The Flag’s 2.4 share tied it at No. 13 among local listeners with Q105.1 Rocks FM, and that rock station has struggled to boost ratings since switching from a lite rock to modern rock format one year ago. That switch was part of Radio F-M Media’s shakeup that changed 98.7 FM to a pop format that’s now the No. 3 station in the community.

Q105.1’s share in the spring of 2013, before the format change was 6.0. That dropped to 4.1 last fall and 2.4 this spring.

Even as the pop audience grows here, several country stations still rank in the top 10 among listeners.

Bob 95 FM was the fourth-highest station with a spring 2014 share of 7.5, down from 8.2 last fall and 8.6 a year ago, while Froggy 99.9 FM came in at No. 5 with a spring share of 6.3. That’s up from 6.1 last fall, but down from its spring 2013 share of 8.2.

Classic rock station The Fox 107.9 FM gained a full point in its share from last fall to this spring, and now claims a 5.5 share, which puts it in the No. 7 position locally.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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