97.1/The River now dominating Atlanta radio ratings

Steve Craig is shifting to mornings while Kaedy Kiely moves to afternoons on 97.1/The River. CREDIT: publicity photo/Facebook public profile photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Steve Craig is shifting to mornings while Kaedy Kiely moves to afternoons on 97.1/The River. CREDIT: publicity photo/Facebook public profile photo

Rock 97.1/The River has become the dominant radio station in Atlanta this year, supplanting a long run by WSB radio. In June Nielsen ratings, it was No. 1 in the market with a 9.7 share, far exceeding No. 2 Kiss 104.1 with a 6.7.

Its online stream added another 1.2 share, giving the River a 10.9 total share. This is by far the strongest performance in the station’s entire history since the Nielsen people meter sampling system began being used in 2009.

The River, under the watchful eye of program director Chris Eagan, and led by veteran morning host Steve Craig and legendary afternoon host Kaedy Kiely, has become a station appealing to multiple generations. Its on-air music programming has remained consistent, focused heavily on familiar classic rock hits from the 1970s and 1980s with just a handful of songs from the late 1960s and early 1990s.

Its playlist intersperses Bon Jovi, Skid Row and Metallica with the Eagles, Queen and Pink Floyd while also throwing in Drivin’ N Cryin’, Black Crowes and Collective Soul. 1980s MTV staples like Rick Springfield, Corey Hart and A Flock of Seagulls also make the cut.

News/talk WSB, which has gone through some management shifts in recent months, slipped yet again and fell to fourth place with a 5.7 share behind adult pop station B98.5 at 6.3. Recent polls show the American public has become less interested in news, which is hurting news/talk stations nationwide. WSB was the No. 1 station in the market for most of 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Cox Media Group, now majority owned by private equity investment group Apollo Global Management, finished with the top four stations in the market.

R&B/hip-hop station V-103, far from its peak days when it challenged the top spot, finished seventh at 4.5. The hip-hop world is splintered among four stations now: Hot 107.9 (2.5), 105.3/The Beat (1.8), Streetz 94.5 (1.1) and OG 97.9 (0.9). V-103 also competes with Kiss, Majic 107.5/97.5 (5.5) and Classix 102.9 (1.2) on the older end.

The River’s closest rival in the rock genre isn’t close at all. A few months after making major talent shifts, including a new syndicated morning show, Rock 100.5 has not seen any ratings improvement. It’s at 1.5, ranked No. 21 overall. Even among men 25-54, Rock 100.5 didn’t even generate half the ratings of the River (7.7 at No. 1) with a 3.4 share and 12th place.

In sports, the success of the World Series champs the Atlanta Braves has propelled 680/93.7 The Fan (2.3) ahead of 92.9/The Game (1.8), which is between football and basketball seasons. The Fan is ranked fourth at night when the Braves usually air their games.

In the battle of the NPR stations, Georgia Public Broadcasting since it switched Georgia State’s WRAS-FM into an NPR station during the daytime eight years ago, has never been able to come close to dominant 90.1/WABE-FM. In this book, the difference was stark: WABE ranked 11th with a 2.9 share and 7th in the early morning and late afternoon time periods. It had 255,000 cumulative listeners. WRAS? 33rd place with a 0.3 share. Its cumulative audience per week? A mere 53,900.

It’s too early to say what impact Q99.7′s Bert Show letting go cast member Davi Crimmins a month ago will have on its success down the road. Currently, it remained the No. 2 morning show overall in the market behind only Scott Slade’s morning show on WSB. Among women 25-54, it was No. 1 with a whopping 16.9 share, more than double that of Steve Harvey on Majic with an 8.1. That was up from May at 16.2 and April with 15.6.

Top 25 stations in the Atlanta market based on Nielsen measurements in June, 2022

Rank, station, format, share

1. 97.1/The River, classic rock, 10.9 (including streaming)

2. Kiss 104.1, R&B, 6.7

3. B98.5, adult pop, 6.7 (including streaming)

4. WSB, news/talk, 5.7

5. Majic 107.5/97.5 5.5

6. Q99.7, top 40, 5.1

7. V-103, hip-hop/R&B, 4.5

8. Power 96.1, top 40, 3.7

8. (tie) New Country 101.5, country, 3.7

10. Fish 104.7, Christian pop, 3.3

11. 90.1/WABE-FM , news/talk 2.9

12. Star 94.1, dance pop, 2.7

12. (tie) 94.9/The Bull, Country, 2.7

14. Hot 107.9, hip-hop, 2.5

15. Praise 102.5, gospel, 2.4

15. (tie) Joy 93.3, Christian pop 2.4

17. 680/93.7 The Fan, sports talk and Braves, 2.3

18. K-Love 106.7 Christian pop, 1.8

18. (tie) 105.3/The Beat, hip-hop, 1.8

18. (tie) 92.9/The Game 1.8

21. Rock 100.5, rock, 1.5

22. Classix 102.9, R&B oldies, 1.2

23. Streetz 94.5, hip hop, 1.1

24. OG 97.9, classic hip hop, 0.9

24. (tie). La Raza 102.3/107.1, regional Mexican music, 0.9