Hearne: Dissecting April’s Radio Ratings; The Buzz, Bridge & Alice’s Ghost

220px-Thebridge-posterJust spin, baby…

After another month of radio ratings so low that KCPT’s new Triple A format radio baby KTBG (The Bridge) isn’t even showing up in the Nielsen numbers, some folks are scratching their heads – others are making excuses.

One local media buyer put it this way to a client:

“KTBG is not showing up because i think it takes one more month to spool up the numbers.”

Um – “spool up the numbers?” – really?

“That’s a crock,” says a top level local radio exec who asked not to be named. “It doesn’t take that long to get ratings. Not in the world of PPMs (portable people meters). In the world of diaries it used to take six months, but in the PPM world, you know in 60 days if you have something going – whether or not you’ve got a hit or a flop.

“In the PPM world, the meters don’t lie. If people were listening to The Bridge, we’d know it because the ratings would show it.”


That same media buyer claimed that there was a “big potential war showing up with WDAF-FM providing strong competition to both KFKF and KBEQ.”


“Like there hasn’t been a war between those stations for the last 5 to 10 years? the source quips. “Come on. It’s been a war since WDAF FM signed on like 11 years ago. How do you declare war when you’re in the middle of a war already?”


aliceThere’s good news and bad news where the fight to pick up listeners from newly departed Triple A station Alice FM is concerned.

First the good:

Three months after the fact, classic rocker KCFX FM has leapt from a 5.8 share of listeners 6 and older to a 7.3 share, mere inches away from toppling KFKF FM for top spot honors.

That’s better than a 25 percent increase.

Now the bad: 

The ratings for Mix 93.3 FM and The Point have both dropped and The Buzz has been down to flat, an indication that none of the three stations has been able to capitalize on Alice’s demise.

And meaning maybe – just maybe – it was The Fox that benefited best from Alice’s dirt nap.

“Why did KCFX have a good book,” says the source. “Because Alice played a lot of 70s hard rock and now as KCKC they’re playing more soft rock.”

captain_buzzkill_png_ipad_mini_cover-rfa931848ad734d1ebe77da95ed59c5bb_w9jws_8byvr_512As for The Buzz, “The Buzz should have gone up,” says the source. But guess what? It didn’t and that’s a problem. Because Alice was an alternative station – not a true alternative station – it was a rock alternative station. And that’s why KCFX saw the improvement, not The Buzz.

“The Buzz isn’t up ticking, it’s flatlining. I mean, it’s been as high as a 4 share and now it’s doing 3 shares and a 3.5 shares. I mean, there’s more people listening to Contemporary Christian than there are to The Buzz – and that doesn’t even include K-Love.”

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20 Responses to Hearne: Dissecting April’s Radio Ratings; The Buzz, Bridge & Alice’s Ghost

  1. newbaum turk says:

    The Buzz is unlistenable to me anymore. It just doesn’t rock. All banjos, ukuleles, guy-girl duets.

    • Bob says:

      It reminds me of what happened to the Lazer in the late mid to late 90s as grunge and 90s alternative sort of faded and the radio station had no idea what to play to keep the young demographic listening. So, they said fuck it and one morning I woke up and Ricky Martin was on the Lazer.

  2. CG says:

    I do a ton of radio in our city weekly. I truly believe this city has more radio listeners than most our size or near our size based on population. When I travel I notice most folks are on sat radio/their own music systems etc…I believe KC people want to hear the local guys and news/sports more than most.

    While listeners are down from ‘the good ole days’ radio still matters in this neck of the woods.The big boys are still up there, Q,Mix,98.9,KFKF, KMBZ and sports with 610 and 810 and yes 101.1 as well as the oldies 94.9…and Hot Jams 103, those stand out to me these days and have for some time. The numbers go up and down but they maintain position for the most part. I wish Rock had some new stars and sounds but alas its a tough road. Hey Rock Fest will sell out again. Which shows where this cities heart is with music.

    • hot harley says:

      glaze…you’re wrong …sorry..
      the numbers are going down. Maybe not for your age of listener
      but now with all the technology the listening by 12-40 year olds
      are dropping.
      Even talk radio is dying…because its audience is dying. Rush is
      losing listeners and he was the king at one time….
      No matter what a station says…you can see it.
      glaze …go to a concert and see where the people a5re listening..
      head phones before the show…they all have smart phones…
      see the recording of the shows…
      Pandora is climbing. despite what people say I feel that pandora
      is gaining steam because even I love it because I can play what
      I want. Now I have to listen to a few commercials unless I pay
      $36 a year…but nothing like commercial radio today.
      You need to watch and hear what companies are doing.
      Watch the parks or walkers on the streets.
      go to the hangouts of 18-34 years old and what their listening
      the numbers are phony…and lets be serious…are based on
      a lousy method of stats….so bad that they will not give
      a margin of error for the numbers (which I feel is about 40%!)
      …and that’s based on some of the top statisticians numbers.
      its faulty…and no other industry would spend billions of dollars
      b ased on these types of stats.
      Glaze…the world has changed…and if you travel west to
      California its even easier to see the huge transformation
      in media habits of people under the age of 40…and that’s
      the majority of the very valuable 18-49 year old adults that
      businesses want to attract as customers. No business gives
      a rat’s a$$ about hearnes favorite listeners aged 6 and older…
      I’ve tried to explain this so many times to hearne…but he’s
      like you…stuck in the past.
      Notice now tht radio statons are offering digistal ad programs/
      mobile advertising programs…that is showing that their
      audience is changing and if they don’t change they will lose.
      As far as sports talk…I am notcing that there are about
      100 hours of weekly sports talkon the tv sports stations (espn/
      nbc/cbs etc…and with more people getting tv feeds on their
      cells…that it will hurt the radio sports programs.
      With the huge popularity of twitter/you tube (ex: colddplay did
      not introduce their new release this week on radio…it was done
      several weeks ago on the internet….5 million hits…and no one
      knew it wascoming out…that proves something!!!!!)….
      bands no longer are so dependent on the radio station because
      of exposure on internet…and I’m guessing programmers are
      paying attention to the listenership of the internet music
      to decide what new songs to bring in and determine their
      play lists.
      the world is changing too fast …and glaze and hearne can
      try to dispel the real world actions…but massiv change is taking
      place throughout all media.
      TV: this new little antenna…size of half a matchbook…will replace
      the rabbit ears/antennas now have…cable is having problems with
      keeping up wit h the service demands of customers…prices are
      rising because of less competition and if aveo (spelling?) the
      small antenna wins in court…networks could be screwed with their
      programming be free to everyone!!!!!! and cable systems would
      not have to pay for the programming they run from the networks.
      ITS MASSIVE AND QUICK…and you and hearne bettr get
      more attuned to whats changing…
      ITS A WHOLE NEW WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Radio dude says:

        Much better job of spelling and do agree with you about that new little device…called Areo. If they win in court the consumer will pay $8 per month to pick up their local broadcast stations. This will kill cable. It may also kill the comcast and ATT deals pending.
        Add on top the consumers use of Netflix and Hulu for about $8 per month each…now for $24 a month you can watch what you want where you want. Huge change for TV industry.

        I do not agree with your assessment of radio. You make all these claims about the ratings that are flawed, but studies show radio still reaches 90% of Americans. Where is your proof?
        You make these claims but can you prove your points? Please do so rather than expressing your opinions.

        BTW, Pandora has yet to make a profit, they continue to lose money and their value has decreased on Wall Street recently. Their growth has maxed with little growth the last few months.

        Radio is still king of audio listening by consumers

        • hot harley says:

          come on dude…those ppm’s are useless…
          ask anyone in the real stat/polling world and
          they’ll tell you that there is no way that
          those arecorrect…basd on failed platform…
          the way its done is faulty…if I walked into
          a wall mart and they’re playing Christian
          music that gets pick up on my ppm…and
          I’m not listeningto k luv.
          they will not release a margin of error which
          is crucial to any polling….their margine of
          error is probably 30-40 percent…minimum.
          and what is that rating based on…a wrong
          as far as Pandora…no probably not making money.
          same thing was said about google…facebook…
          you tube….and every other internet site…and
          now look at the billions theyare making…
          once they become more established and eventually
          go public…Pandora will be billion dollars ….
          and wit hteir ability to dissect audiences…they
          will be even better…..
          the experts said don’t buy google/yahoo.other
          websites over the last three years…now they
          are printing money and will be worth so much
          money it will boggle even a dude like yours
          radio…I will be with miller this weekend…will
          see what is happening…
          thanks for the compliments..
          you’r4e probably a cool dude….take care..
          and stay sober this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!
          your friend

      • Jim says:

        H-Man, good comments. My personal opinion is that Spotify kicks Pandora’s ass in regards to listening to EXACTLY what I want, compiling my personal playlists and even the ability to “download” the music to my phone so I can listen offline when streaming isn’t possible.

        • admin says:

          Spotify is indeed it, Jim

          Who isn’t using it?

          • the dude says:

            MOG was better until Beats bought it.
            I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole now.

          • Radio dude says:

            8 million subscribers worldwide for Spotify…with a population of 8 billion on the planet.
            That leaves about 99.9% of the worlds population who don’t subscribe to Spotify.

  3. Brother Sunday says:

    How in the hell do they get radio ratings? The used to call home numbers randomly and do surveys. Now? I dunno. I think its crap.

  4. balbonis moleskine says:

    Cypress Avenue and the Friday Night Fish Fry both on 89.3 are the best shows on the radio in KC.

    101 the Fox is clearly the best station in town and has been for years.

    • the dude says:

      Don’t forget Rockabilly Moodswing with Lynny G and the Howlin’ Prowlin’ Moondog on Friday 5-7 at KKFI. It is pretty good too.

  5. kansas karl says:

    KTBG is much like Hearne’s Fiat, not many folks know it is even available but those who do love it. There are not many successful choices for public radio stations, the news/talk format, alternative music (AAA, Folk, Classical, Jazz/Blues) or a community style (KKFI). The only one that makes sense, given the desire for a younger audience, is AAA for KC, and nationally it is the Public radio growth format.

    Public radio/TV are not ratings whore’s, the financial model does not depend on support from the ad community to survive. KTBG’s recent fund raiser was twice as successful as any when broadcasting from Warrensburg. Over 700 folks became “founders” of the station here in KC.

    KTBG has joined AAA heavyweights WFUV New York, KCRW San Diego, WXPN Philadelphia, and KUTX in Austin for the http://www.themusicxproject.com/, national level recognition to the quality of KTBG efforts.

    Ratings mean dick to Public radio/TV the only measureing stick is the amount of money raised.

    Much like this blog KKFI is not for the masses, vanilla is.

    • admin says:

      Dear Kansas karl:

      My Fiat is long gone. driving a Mazda 6 now that gets just about the same mileage but has a lot more functionality. The Fiat 500 totally flunking the crash test in January didn’t help.

      Look, I get what you’re saying about fund raising versus advertising. Point well taken.

      However, if they can’t scare up more listeners than they have these first four months, that’s not going to be good.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but it would seem that to successfully raise enough money to operate a station that – not-for-profit or not, still has a fairly big nut – there need to be enough listeners to fund raise from.

      If it’s only you, me, Paul Wilson, Brett Mosiman @ Crossroads KC and Joel from the Pitch listening, how much do you think the five of us are going to cough up?

      As for KTBG joining the “heavyweights,” that’s a bit premature. Some of those stations are indeed comparative heavyweights.

      With all due respect, at this stage of the game, The Bridge is pretty much in the fly weight division. Time will tell if they can pack on the pounds (listeners).

      • kansas karl says:

        None of the “heavyweights” mentioned get more than a 2 share. On paper and in the ratings KTBG Kansas City has not knocked them dead and won’t, at best the station will garner the above mentioned 2 share. Jon Hart is the heavyweight in this equation, AAA non-comm programmer of the year, nationally known and respected Jon brings more to the table than the management at KCPT.

        Where else to they go? What other format will garner the younger audience they wish would appear out of thin air? I did see a bill board on the far east side in an industrial district, I guess looking for young working men, but the format traditionally has skewed female, it was a small board too and hard to read.

        So where else do they go? there is no step up to a real car from a fix it again tony, in the public radio format arsenal.

    • Radio dude says:

      And Vanilla sells more than any other flavor

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