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A look at who’s listening to local radio

When I saw the crowds for Kerfuffle at Canalside, sponsored by Alt 107.7, a few weeks ago, my first thought was that the FM channel must be rocking in the ratings.

Then I got a peek at the spring rating book and saw that the Entercom station, WLKK-FM, had a 1.2 share of the audience older than 12 for the period from March 27 through June 18.

In other words, just about every one of its listeners must have been at Canalside listening to Cage the Elephant, Big Hands and Big Data.

From the photographs taken by The Buffalo News, it was clear that most were in the age 18-34 audience that WLKK is seeking and that is harder to get in the Pandora and iPod age.

The news for WLKK is a little better in that coveted age 18-34 demographic. WLKK gets a 2.3 share of that audience, a marked improvement of the zero it had a year ago when it simulcast WBEN-AM.

Every time the local radio ratings arrive I am reminded of two things: 1) I’m not normal (but you knew that) when it comes to listening to radio and 2) The 12-plus ratings really don’t mean much to the stations that are looking for a specific audience.

They might want men ages 25-54, they might want women, they might want people age 18-34, they might want teens, and they might even want senior citizens if that’s all they can get.

However, the age 12-plus ratings do say a lot about Western New York’s tastes.

Here’s my interpretation of what the Top 10 standings mean.

WYRK-FM, 11.9 share: The country station has long been a power here, and all you have to do is look at the crowds at the recent Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan concerts to understand why: Western New Yorkers love country, which is mainstream music now. And YRK benefits because it really doesn’t have a competitor for the audience it is seeking besides WXRL, a weak AM station.

WBLK-FM, 9.0: I thought of this station while watching the pilot of the new ABC comedy, “Black-ish,” about an African-American man (played by Anthony Anderson) who lives with his family in suburbia and fears that his children are losing their roots. One of the things he is concerned about is what passes for urban contemporary and R&B music. Somehow, he didn’t have Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke in mind. An urban contemporary music station, WBLK’s play list includes Timberlake, too. It is one of my favorite stations, though I doubt I’m in the demographic it is seeking. It is No. 1 with listeners age 18-34.

WBEN, 8.3: It slipped from second to third, which I hope means the area might be tiring of the mis- information supplied by its right-wing hosts, led by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and the inanities of afternoon local host Tom Bauerle. The station had a 10.2 a year ago, which means its share took a big hit this spring. But its audience of men 25-54 – presumably who want to keep their guns – rose 30 percent, and it is No. 5 in that category. The popularity of the station does make you question the recent survey about how liberal our community is supposed to be.

97 Rock, 6.5: Rock ’n’ roll is here to stay and so is morning host Larry Norton, even if he does his show from Florida most of the year. The classic rock station was No. 1 with men age 25-54.

WHTT-FM (5.4): I didn’t realize Bill Lacy was still on the station until last week, when he was named as one of six people to be inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame. That’s because I haven’t listened to the classic hits station in years. But then, I told you I’m not normal.

WKSE-FM (5.3): I remember listening to the station when I drove my teenage kids to school and immediately felt my IQ dropping. It seems to aim for young females who enjoy celebrity gossip, so I don’t fit the target.

103.3 The Edge (4.9): Shredd and Ragan remain the most interesting radio team on radio. Then again, I can’t really name many radio teams. The station, which carries something called active and recurrent rock and harder 1990s music, is No. 2 with men 25-54.

WJYE (4.7): I listen at night when Delilah gives out relationship advice. My adult children laugh at me before asking to change the channel. It seems to be trying to be more contemporary and hotter, whatever that means.

WTSS (4.7): Rob Lucas has one of the best voices on radio and seems to actually care about celebrity gossip. It is going for the same audience as JYE and gets the same share.

WBFO (3.5): “Wait, wait, don’t tell me” that there are actually people who want to be informed by public radio. I can’t wait to see what former Buffalo News reporter Brian Meyer does when he takes over as news director. The station attracts men 25-54 and is up 30 percent with the audience from a year ago.

You might be surprised that none of the sports channels, including WGR, hit the Top 10. But remember the survey was taken when the Buffalo Bills weren’t playing and the Sabres weren’t playing very well.

WGR finished just outside the Top 10 at No. 11 with a 3.3 share among listeners age 12 and older. However, it primarily seeks male viewers age 25-54, and it is No. 3 in that category.

I was more surprised to see the low ranking of ESPN 1520, which has become one of my favorite channels – when I’m not listening to Delilah.

I’m a Colin Cowherd fan. It doesn’t hurt that his show is on when Kevin Sylvester and Andrew Peters are talking about the Sabres in the summer. I also enjoyed the whining of Miami-based Dan LeBatard when LeBron James bolted the Heat for Cleveland.

I’m amazed that the 50,000-watt station, which will carry University at Buffalo football and basketball, only had a 0.5 share of listeners age 12 and older. It gets a 1 share of men 25-54.

I’m also a John Feinstein fan, when his show airs on Sports 1270 The Fan. But the third sports station doesn’t get enough audience to even register a share.

UB should be helped by the move from 1270 to 1520, but it isn’t getting rich. I laugh when asked if the Bulls get a rights fee from Entercom. More likely, they are paying Entercom to carry the games.

When it comes to attracting audiences around here, college sports is no Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan – or Kerfuffle.


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