By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Monday, February 8, 2016
Commercials are a necessary evil on commercial radio. They enable people to listen for free while providing income to the owners.
Question: who on Atlanta morning music radio plays the most ads?
Using data from radio tracker Mediabase 24/7, I studied ad loads on two sample days: Friday November 19, 2015, and Wednesday, February 3, 2016. Mediabase said these ad breaks include station promos as well as paid ads. I included November because it's reportedly a more representative time of the year than early February.
Mediabase does not measure news/talk or sports talk stations so data is unavailable for News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB, 92.9/The Game, 680/The Fan or NewsRadio 106.7. Smaller stations such as Streetz 94.5 and OG 97.9 are also not accessible.
On both days, the four shows that aired the most ads are all syndicated, meaning they are heard in multiple markets. "They're selling national inventory and need to leave inventory to the station," said Sean Ross, a Billboard columnist who tracks radio trends nationwide.
On Nov. 19, Rickey Smiley's morning shot on Hot 107.9 aired the most ads, averaging more than 20 minutes an hour. On Feb. 3, Steve Harvey's morning show on Majic 107.5 also hit the 20 minute mark.
Radio consultant Alex Demers, who does not have any clients in Atlanta, notes that many syndicated shows tend to offer more talk content. Listeners, he said, usually have higher tolerance for ads in a news/talk environment. Plus, he said the "strength of personality" may keep listeners around in the case of celebrities such as Harvey or Smiley.
Tim Davies, who runs the Radio One Atlanta group that oversees Hot and Majic, declined to comment.
Demers said lower ad loads can sometimes mean a station's ad demand is low or it could be a tactical way to build audience against a rival.
"It depends more on competition than anything else," said Tony Kidd, vice president for programming for the radio division of Cox Media Group Atlanta. He oversees Kiss 104.1, 97.1/The River and B98.5. "The fewer stations in the same format, the more you can get away with… but that does have a down side at some point where you just chase listeners away." He said it's a tricky balancing act between running enough ads to pay the bills while not airing too many that may alienate fans.
Cadillac Jack & Dallas McCade on country station Kicks 101.5 offered the lightest load on both days, with 8 minutes 38 seconds in November and 6 minutes 38 seconds in February. (I did not hear from Cumulus Atlanta market manager Sean Shannon.)
Most radio stations played about 10 to 14 minutes or ads per hour. The longest single ad break I saw was more than 9 minutes long.
Here are the average hour totals on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 for the morning shows:
Majic's Steve Harvey Morning Show: 20 minutes, 41 seconds per hour
Hot 107.9's Rickey Smiley Morning Show: 17 minutes, 45 seconds per hour
Praise 97.5's Yolanda Adams: 15 minutes 56 seconds per hour
Q100's Bert Show: 15 minutes 49 seconds per hour
B98.5's Tad and Melissa (Tad Lemire and Melissa Carter): 12 minutes 53 seconds per hour
V-103's Ryan Cameran and Wanda Smith: 12 minutes 34 seconds per hour
Kiss 104.1's Tom Joyner: 11 minutes 53 seconds per hour
Power 96.1's Scotty Kay and Riley Couture: 11 minutes 26 seconds per hour
94.9/The Bull's Jason Pullman and Kristen Gates: 11 minutes 15 seconds per hour
Radio 105.7's Aly Young 11 minutes 4 seconds per hour
Star 94's Drex, Cassiday & Tingle 11 minutes 4 seconds per hour
97.1/The River's Kaedy Kiely 11 minutes per hour
Rock 100.5's Jason Bailey and Southside Steve 10 minutes four seconds per hour
Fish 104.7's Kevin Avery and Taylor Scott 8 minutes 26 seconds per hour
Kicks 101.5's Cadillac Jack and Dallas McCade 6 minutes 38 seconds per hour
The comparable average hourly ad loads on November 19, 2015 for the morning shows:
Hot: 20 minutes 15 seconds
Majic 17 minutes 15 seconds
Praise 16 minutes 11 seconds
Kiss 15 minutes 26 seconds
B98.5 14 minutes 45 seconds
Q100 14 minutes 30 seconds
Bull 14 minutes 8 seconds
V-103 11 minutes 38 seconds
Radio 11 minutes 4 seconds
River 10 minutes 53 seconds
Star 10 minutes 45 seconds
Rock: 10 minutes 41 seconds
Power 10 minutes 34 seconds
Fish 9 minutes 56 seconds
Kicks 8 minutes 38 seconds
Kiss, B98.5, WSB and the River, along with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are part of Cox Media Group.