Christmas boosts B98.5, affects other stations

By RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com, filed Dec. 30, 2010

Do you hear what I hear? It's Christmas music on B98.5, which helped boost the soft rock station's ratings for what is dubbed the "December" Arbitron ratings but actually covers the four-week period from Nov. 11 to Dec. 8.

How big an impact is Christmas to the station? It changed format for only two of the four weeks covered, yet the station's average weekly unique listeners jumped nearly 20 percent from 1.4 million to 1.65 million. (After the Christmas switch, unique listeners jumped closer to 2 million.) Time spent listening jumped even more. The result: a whopping 63 percent increase in ratings, placing B98.5 at No. 2 behind only V-103, which had a strong ratings period to remain the city's leader.

The jump for B98.5 this year was even greater than a year ago.

And if you isolate the four weeks in which B98.5 plays Christmas music (Nov. 24 to Dec. 25), the station would be No. 1 for that time period. Arbitron's four-week rolling cycles don't match that.

B98.5's new listeners had to come from somewhere. Though country and R&B/hip-hop stations didn't appear affected, stations which saw drops in ratings compared to the previous four weeks include Star 94, Q100, 97.1/The River, Atlanta's Greatest Hits, Wild 105.7, Wild 105.7, Rock 100.5 and AM750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Fish 104.7, the Christian pop station, also went all Christmas. As in many past years, the station's ratings did not drop but did not rise to any degree either.

Here's an overview of the ratings by format:

R&B/hip hop

"The People's Station" V-103 dominated as usual with its strongest month since January with a 9.3 share. Frank and Wanda had its best 18-34 numbers since October 2009 with a whopping 16.7 share of listeners in that demographic.

R&B station Kiss 104.1 and its Tom Joyner morning show had its best ratings since October 2009 with a 6.5 overall rating, ranking fourth. Hot 107.9 also had a great month, ranking second 18-34  Majic 107.5/97.5' s numbers were typical with the station ranking 9th overall and fifth 25-54.

Wild 105.7 in its first full month under its new name and sound took a major tumble, falling to 13th from 4th a month earlier among 18 to 34 year olds.

Top 40/pop

B98.5 appears to have diverted some listening from the two top 40 stations Q100 and Star 94. Q100 fell to eighth 25-54 and fourth 18-34 and even the Bert Show slipped back to third 25-54 and 18-34. Star fell to 16th and 11th 18-34 but Cindy & Ray held in seventh place 18-34.  Atlanta's Greatest Hits, which moved to a more 70s-oriented oldies format Thanksgiving and dropped the True Oldies moniker, had its worst ratings since people meters began in early 2009. Its overall ratings fell from 2.9 to 2.2. As recently as August, the station had a 4.2 rating. That's a seriously precipitous drop. Randy & Spiff dropped to 22nd with a 1.1 rating among 25 to 54 year olds  from a 3.0 rating just four months earlier.

Country

Kicks 101.5 remains the top overall country station with a 5.2 share (sixth place) but 94.9/The Bull has never been so close before with a 5.0 share, its best number ever. And the Bull continues to win among the younger demographics. It beat Kicks 25-54 for the fourth month in a row and 18-34 for the fourth time in five months.

Rock

92.9/Dave FM was the only rock station to make it into the top 10 among 25-54 year olds. Project 9-6-1, as usual, landed in the top 10 among 18-34 year olds, ranking sixth, with the new Shafee and Klinger combo jumping to a tie for 10th among 25 to 54 year olds.

The other three stations had tougher months. 97.1/The River had its worst overall ratings since March. It's 14th 25-54, 15th overall. Rock 1005 also had its worst numbers in more than a year. Its 25-54 ratings have slipped from a 3.4 share to a 1.4 share since July . The Regular Guys weren't immune, falling from sixth to 18th place among 25 to 54 year olds in five months.  The show fared even worse among 18 to 34 year olds in that same time period, going from a robust fourth place to an alarming 19th. 99X at 97.9 finished a tie for 20th among 18 to 34 year olds.

News/talk

WSB, with B98.5's Christmas switch, lost some audience. It fell to third from second overall and from second to fourth 25-54 but its numbers are better than they were that same period a year ago. 640/WGST-AM didn't see its numbers change, though its 25-54 numbers for 3 to 7 p.m. when Dave Ramsey is on were the lowest of the year. (Ramsey is out at the end of the year.)

Sports talk

680/The Fan rebounded a bit from its worst numbers of the year the previous four weeks, ranked 18th among 25-54 year olds and 20th overall.  790/The Zone wasn't far behind though it lagged 25-54 in all major time slots. It did do better than the Fan on weekends. (I don't have 25-54 male numbers, which is what the stations use to sell. )

Christian

As noted earlier, 104.7/the Fish had typical numbers, even with a change to Christmas. Kevin & Taylor were consistent top 10 performers in both 18-34 and 25-54 demos. Praise 102.5 had a slightly softer-than-normal performance but still finished fifth overall and a tie for fifth 25-54.

Hispanic

El Patron 105.3 had its lowest ratings in the two-year period since people meters started, falling to a 2.1 rating overall, ranked 18th.

Top 25 overall

1. V-103

2. B98.5

3. WSB

4. Kiss

5. Praise

6. Kicks

7. Bull

8. Hot

9. Majic

10. Q100

11. WABE

12. Fish

13. Dave

14. Project

15. River

16. Star

17. Atlanta's Greatest Hits

18. El Patron

19. Wild

20. The Fan

21. WGST

22. Rock 100.5

23. The Zone

24. J93.3

25. 99X at 97.9

Top 20, 25-54

1. V-103

2. B98.5

3. Kiss

4. WSB

5. (tie) Praise, Majic

7. Bull

8. Q100

9. Fish

10. Dave

11. (tie) Kicks, Hot

13. Project

14. River

15. Star

16. El Patron

17. WABE

18. Fan

19. Zone

20. Atlanta's Greatest Hits

Top 10 morning shows, 25-54 (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.)

1. Frank & Wanda, V-103

2. Scott Slade, WSB

3. Bert Show, Q100

4. Vikki Locke, B98.5

5. (tie) Tom Joyner, Kiss; Kevin & Taylor, Fish

7. Rickey Smiley, Hot

8. Steve Harvey, Majic

9. Jason Pullman & Kristen Gates, 94.9/The Bull

10. Shafee and Klinger, Project 9-6-1

Top 10 25-54 mid-days (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

1. Fill-ins/Ryan Cameron, V-103

2. Jordan Graye, B98.5

3. Madison, The Bull

4. (tie) Cynthia Young, Kiss; Neal Boortz/Clark Howard, WSB

6. Rhodell Lewis, Praise

7. (tie) Carol Blackmon, Majic; Aly, Project

9. Sari Rose, Kicks

10. (tie) Parks Stamper, Fish; Deborah Reece, the River

18-34 top 20

1. V-103

2. Hot

3. B98.5

4. Q100

5. The Bull

6. Project

7. Kicks

8. Majic

9. WSB

10. Kiss

11. Star, Dave (tie)

13. Wild

14. El Patron

15. Praise

16. Fish

17. River

18. WABE

19. Rock 100.5

20. (tie) Fan, 99X

18-34 top 10 morning shows

1. Frank & Wanda, V-103

2. Rickey Smiley, Hot

3. Bert Show, Q100

4. Vikki Locke, B98.5 (up from 15th last month)

5. Scott Slade, WSB

6. Jason Pullman & Kristen Gates, Bull

7. Cindy & Ray, Star

8. Kevin & Taylor, Fish

9. Steve Harvey, Majic

10. (tie) Patrones de la Manana, El Patron; Cadillac Jack & Dallas McCade,Kicks

Top 10, 18-34 mid-day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

1. Fill-ins/Ryan Cameron, V-103

2. Jordan Graye, B98.5

3. Maria More, Hot

4. Aly, Project 9-6-1

5. Sari Rose, Kicks

6. Madison, 94.9/The Bull

7. Brittany, Q100

8. (tie) Carol Blackmon, Majic; Neal Boortz/Clark Howard, WSB; Mara Davis/Rich Sullivan, Dave FM

SOURCE: Arbitron