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F-M-area radio listeners tune in to talk, less rock

FARGO - Fargo-Moorhead radio listeners are tuning into more talk and less rock, according to last fall's ratings period, just-released results show.

FARGO – Fargo-Moorhead radio listeners are tuning into more talk and less rock, according to last fall’s ratings period, just-released results show.
Of the 15 commercial radio stations in the topline report of Nielsen’s fall ratings book, from Sept. 11 to Dec. 3, only four stations saw a ratings boost and two of the four were talk stations.
KFGO 790 AM maintained its longtime lead among all radio stations with a dominant 13.6 shares. After slipping from 15.5 in spring 2013, it was an increase of 2.2 shares from spring 2014.
A share is the percentage of radio listeners who are tuned to a particular station. The topline numbers look at all listeners 12 and older from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
“Talk radio has always been there, you’ve just got to make it interesting,” said Joel Heitkamp, program director for KFGO and the sports station, 740 The Fan, both owned by Midwest Communication. “Why I think we’re winning that thing is because we’re the table that everybody is eavesdropping on, or wants to hear.”
Heitkamp’s show, News & Views, topped the mid-morning period from 9 to 11 a.m. with a 17 share.
Heitkamp said listeners don’t want to hear celebrity gossip; they tune in to hear about what’s happening locally.
“It starts with our news team and it ends with our news team,” he said. “Not everyone is watching their smart phone 24/7.”
KFGO’s sister station, Y-94, stayed in second place overall, but in the top spot on the FM. The pop station has long been the most popular music spot on the dial despite dropping from a 10.6 share in spring 2014 to an 8.9 share this past fall. Still, it held its lead over country competitors Bob 95 (6.8) and Froggy 99.9 (6.0), both of which again lost listeners, a slide that started after the spring 2013 ratings book when each had more than 8 shares.
“It’s intense. It’s a battle,” said JT, programming director for Y-94. “You never know. You can be on top for a couple of years and then slip down to four or five. It’s a fickle thing.”
Big 98.7, Y-94’s main competition for top 40 audiences, stumbled to a 4.7. The station started in August 2013 and in two books built up to a 7.9 last spring.
While KFGO also dominated the morning shows, averaging 17.7 shares from 6 to 9 a.m., Y-94’s Morning Playhouse with Rat and Zero held a firm lead on the FM side by averaging 11.3. Bob 95, with Chris John and Jane, was second with a 7.9, with The Fox 107.9’s Robbie Daniels, Dave Jacobs, Moose Johnson and Tara coming in third with a 5.6.
Despite winning The Forum’s reader’s choice for Best Local Radio Show last fall, Big 98.7’s Jesse, Amanda and Pike averaged 5 shares. Froggy 99.9’s Siri and E, rounded out the top five FM morning shows with a 4.6 average share.
While Sandy Buttweiler left longtime broadcasting partner Jack Sunday at KFGO to start her own show on WDAY 970 AM, KFGO maintained a strong lead from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday averaged 11.5 shares over the time period, compared to 2.3 shares brought in by Buttweiler and Christopher Gabriel, who was in that time slot until Buttweiler started at WDAY on Oct. 13.
In the late afternoon, KFGO’s Mike McFeely averaged 11.2 shares from 2 to 5 p.m. At WDAY, Jay Thomas averaged 3.7 shares.
Overall, WDAY, which like The Forum is owned by Forum Communications Co., averaged a 3 share, down from 3.5 last spring. The rating puts the station in 10th place.
“There are really a lot of good radio stations in Fargo and whichever one you listen to, you’re going to get a quality product. I think that makes all of us better,” said Y-94’s JT.


Related Topics: RADIO
For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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