Tuning in on the latest ratings

March 21, 1976 — Be thankful that the ratings are as nebulous as they are.
The day that somebody comes up with proof positive that specific action will bring specific results, radio originality will die.
Already there is a lot of copycatting in radio. Almost every format in Seattle shares slogan, jingle, news structure or record lists with stations in almost any other city.
But the ratings don’t always tell the station manager or program director how well he’s doing. For one thing they are too late. The ratings quoted here are all old– at least by radio standards, where a hit can be made in a day and a golden oldie comes way back from 1973.
Last time we looked at the ratings of Seattle radio stations, they said that KING-AM had edged out KJR in the top 40 field.
The January to February ratings from American Research Bureau (Arbitron) arrived last week, and this time they show that KJR has recovered. (A corresponding rating report for an earlier period, October to November 1975, by Pulse Inc. had not yet reached subscribers.)
Arbitron is the service most often relied upon by Seattle advertising agencies. Based on their readings of these specific statistics from the 64-page book, these advertising representatives will remove or replace quantities of commercials. Some disk jockeys will lose their jobs; some may bounce to greater markets, and a lot of advertising salesman will spend greater hours immersed in their favorite watering hole.
Total listeners, age 12 and up, Monday through Sunday, the area’s favorite station is still KOMO, head and shoulders with an 11.1 audience share, KVI is a very comfortable number three with a .2, and KIRO has a nice number four with 6.4. KIRO’s sister station, KSEA, is number five with 6.2.
These stations look even better, they regularly remind anyone who asks, if you forget about the teenagers in those totals. “We don’t expect to attract teens,” is a near-universal quote.
Such adult stations are perfectly happy to let the rock ‘n roll stations fight over teenagers.
And fight they do. You’ve seen the billboards, heard the contests, wondered at the free records and trips to sunny climes. KJR, this surveys period’s number two station, and KING-AM have been running a neck and neck battle for young listeners (not necessarily teams), but the “swing vote” ends up being from teens.
For various reasons, Either station might want to shrug off those figures. One might have more women listeners (“most valuable to advertisers”) or one may trounce the other in specific listening periods (midday for instance, KING has the attention of more teenagers playing hooky then KJR; in the 7 PM to midnight time slot KJR’s near 30% share whomps KING’s 20.9 teenagers.) But neither station could with a straight face call itself number one.
Next question: how did KJR do it? Play more music? Play the right music? Ease out some disk jockeys? Give away more records? Repeat its call letters more often? Only Steve West, program director, and Kent Burkhart, consultant, know.
In case you’re interested, in the special-interest fields, KZOK is easing downward to 2.9; KISW is level at 3.1; KZAM AM and FM is level at 2.1.
KYAC FM has more total listeners than KYAC AM. If you add KIXI FM’s 3.12 and KIXI AM’s 2.8 you could say that KIXI AM and FM is tied with KING-AM for sixth place. You could say that. But nobody but a KIXI time salesman does say it.
This is KMPS’s first respectable book, drawing 2.6 against KAYO’s weakening 2.7. KETO is hardly in the battle with 1.0.
In the secondary level beautiful music area, KBIQ is comfortable with a 3.3 compared to KEUT’s 2.5 and KEZX’s embarrassing 1.3.
Suburban stations which did not even make the book include KILO, Kirkland, and KQIN, Burien.

Dial twisting

Not too far away, CBS Mystery Theater will offer a week of Shakespearean adaptations. The dramas will be Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra. Also in April KUOW will resurrect a collection of old NBC adaptations of famous novels, including A Farewell to Arms and Of Human Bondage.

Victor Stredicke

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times.

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