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Market By Market, Here’s How News Talk Shares Exploded.

The first full monthly ratings report card of the COVID-19 era has arrived and news and news/talk stations are benefitting from a nation craving information while being basically locked down during the unprecedented health crisis. Shares are up for most of these stations, however cume is markedly down as drive time listening fell during the ratings period.

Entercom all-news WINS New York rises a share, moving 3.6-4.7-5.7 in Nielsen’s April survey, while public radio outlet WNYC-AM/FM is also up a share (3.1-4.0-5.1), giving the station its largest share in history. Entercom news sister WCBS gains a share-and-a-half in April, rising 2.4-2.9-3.4. Leading the New York market is Spanish Broadcasting System tropical WSKQ-FM, which also picks up more than a share month-over-month (5.9-6.5-7.7), its highest posted share, according to ratings historian Chris Huff. iHeartMedia talk WOR rises 2.0-1.9-3.0 in the New York market, while leading the adjacent Nassau-Suffolk market (4.2-3.8-6.7).

The record shares are dampened by massive declines in cume across the board. WINS is down 31% (1,676,600-1,147,600); WNYC’s cume dropped 27% (829,100-604,400); WCBS is down 25% (977,800-730,400); and WSKQ-FM lost 34% of its cume month-over-month (2,036,500-1,341,300).

The Los Angeles market is led by iHeartMedia talk KFI, gaining more than a share month-over-month (3.8-4.2-5.5). The last time KFI was No. 1 was March 2012, Huff notes. KFI’s cume is down 16% (808,200-671,900).

News and news/talk stations take three of the Top 5 positions in Chicago with Entercom news WBBM leading the market with its largest share since 1975 and adding nearly a share since March (5.8-7.7-8.4). Nexstar talk WGN adds a share, moving 3.9-4.5-5.6 and placing third in the market. Chicago public radio outlet WBEZ posts its largest share in history, according to Huff, and is ranked fourth (3.6-4.3-5.4). Hubbard classic rock WDRV also posts its best share in history, rising 5.3-5.1-6.4 and ranking second in the market.

The pandemic-triggered cume plunge was in in full effect in Chicago with WBBM down 24% (1,248,500-938,400); WDRV fell 25% (1,184,600-884,400); WBEZ lost 23% month-over-month (601,600-462,400); and WGN dropped 27% (494,200-359,700).

While cumes fell in the April survey due to the pandemic, more recent data from Nielsen’s PPM markets shows upward momentum for radio listening. As of Week 2 of the in-progress May survey, total week listening is at 82% of its pre-COVID level and up 22% from April’s low.

Entercom news KCBS San Francisco remains No.1, while flat (8.7-9.9-9.9), tied with KQED-FM, which adds nearly two shares 6.6-8.1-9.9, giving the station is largest share in history. KCBS’ cume is down 32% (987,500-669,000) and KQED drops 24% (782,100-587,300). Worth noting is iHeartMedia soft AC posting its largest share in history, rising 4.4-4.5-5.1 and taking third place in the market.

iHeartMedia news/talk KTRH Houston adds nearly two shares month-over-month (5.7-4.6-6.3) and ranks third, but endures a 10% cume loss (441,800-394,500).

Leading the Atlanta market is Cox Media Group news/talk WSB/WSBB-FM Atlanta, which continues its record-breaking trend, posting its best share since Spring 1979, Huff says, and adding a share since March (11.4-12.9-13.9). The station was not immune to the across-the-board cume drop, down 14% (801,700-682,100). Other ATL notables: classic hits sister WSRV posts its largest share in history (5.5-6.4-7.4) and urban AC cluster-mate WALR-FM has its highest share in the facility’s history, adding more than three shares (5.8-6.4-7.4).

In Philly, all-news KYW adds nearly three shares in two months (4.7-6.6-7.3) and places second in the market. KYW’s cume sinks 32% (737,300-498,200). Leading the market, and posting its largest share in station history, is iHeartMedia urban AC WDAS-FM, which also sees nearly a three-share increase (6.2-6.3-9.2).

Nielsen’s April survey covered March 26 - April 22. All figures quoted are total week 6+ AQH shares. – Jay Gleason

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