Welcome to Inside Radio's first edition of “By The Numbers,” a regular end-of-week look at standout trending stories driven by ratings or other key metrics. This time around, the focus is on Nielsen's top 25 adult contemporary stations ranked by weekly cume persons 12+, based on Nielsen’s most recent National Regional Database (fall 2020) reflecting both in- and out-of-market on-air and streaming listening.
With a weekly cume of 3.1 million, iHeartMedia's New York AC “Lite FM” WLTW tops the inaugural chart. In a market of more than 15 million people, one in five tune to the station every week. Programmed by veteran AC brand manager Chris Conley, “Lite FM” enjoys a 37-year heritage in radio’s largest market and has been a ratings dynasty for decades.
Sister KOST Los Angeles, another iconic station, captures second place with a cume of 2.6 million. In April, veteran iHeart programmer Jill Kempton moved up into the Program Director position at the AC powerhouse, which is anchored by trailblazer Ellen K in morning drive.
Overall, iHeart claims seven of the top 10 stations, including such powerhouses as Houston's “Sunny 99.1” KODA and Chicago's “Lite FM” WLIT in third and fourth place, respectively.
Aside from iHeart, the only other owner with more than one top 10 ranked AC on this national list is Audacy, whose heritage “B101.1” WBEB Philadelphia and “101.5 Lite FM” WLYF Miami rank fifth and ninth respectively. Taking the full top 25 into account, iHeart leads with 11 ACs with Audacy second with six and Cox Media Group in third with three.
Five markets are home to more than one AC cume magnet: Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami and Detroit each placed two stations among the top 25.
While AC station ratings reach stratospheric levels during the holiday season, most of the stations on the list are cume monsters year round with eight of the top 10 ranked No. 1 in cume in Nielsen’s June PPM survey: WLTW, KODA, WBEB, KDGE Dallas, KESZ Phoenix, KOIT San Francisco, WLYF Miami, and WASH Washington, DC.
Notably, several listed AC stations outrank their markets when it comes to cume, including, two inside the top five. Houston's KODA is third-ranked among all ACs while in the sixth-largest radio market, and Philadelphia's WBEB, fifth and in the ninth-biggest market. That's also the case for top 10 ranked stations in Phoenix (market No. 13) and Miami (market No. 11) and, further down the list, iHeart's WMGF Orlando, 20th in cume among AC outlets in market 29, and WRAL-FM, 25th while in market 37, Raleigh-Durham.