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Radio AM to FM: January 22, 1999

Fall Arbitrons

With huge jumps in the Arbitrons last quarter for each of the three leading Spanish-language radio stations, Los Angeles radio continues to find itself being dominated by Spanish stations. And the trend is spreading.

Leader KSCA increased almost a full share to 6.9, earing ratings that haven't been seen on an English station since KIIS-FM dominated the 1980s. Second-place KLVE was up a half point to 6.5, again blowing away the English-language competition. And KLAX, which at one time was the dominant Spanish-speaker only to be pushed out of the top by KLVE two years ago, came back with a vengeance, increasing almost a full point to tie KPWR for third at 4.1.

This one-two-three punch was somewhat unexpected to some observers, since Arbitron recently changed their methodology slightly by breaking Los Angeles County into five geographic areas. This was supposed to balance diary return rates and keep any one particular ethnic group or area of the city from throwing off the overall ratings results.

So, if we assume the methodology is improved (and I don't necessarily believe that, but will accept the notion for argument) why are the Spanish stations becoming so dominant so suddenly? Is it due to a sudden surge in immigration?

Hardly. The dominant Spanish stations are nothing more than a mirror of the old dominant English stations. They play popular music with a presentation that appeals to the entire family ... just as KHJ and KIIS-FM once did. The Spanish stations that adapted niche formats (like most of the English stations) are way at the bottom of the list. In other words, KSCA, KLVE and KLAX simply do good radio.

In other ratings news, KFI increased a half point (to 3.9 and fifth place) to once again claim the top-spot in the talk wars. Competitors KLSX and KABC were way down in 14th place with 2.4 shares.

All the pop oldies stations were down, including KRTH (3.0 from 3.4), Mega 100 (2.8 from 3.2) and KRLA, which recently dropped oldies for talk (0.6 from 0.7). KLAC, meanwhile was up, increasing to 2.3 from 2.1. Perhaps the people who once tuned into KRTH's Robert W. Morgan have switched over to KLAC's Charlie Tuna.

And finally, in an interesting twist of sports radio fortunes, XTRA Sports from San Diego earned twice the ratings of XTRA Sports Los Angeles (KXTA): 0.8 to 0.4. Lousy for both, as once again the viability of Sports Radio in Los Angeles is proven to be a pipe dream. But it must make KXTA programmer Mike Thompson just a bit nervous: Last quarter KXTA was at least tied with XTRA.

Here's the full story: each rating is an estimate of the percentage of listeners aged 12 and over tuned into a station between the hours of 6 am and 12 midnight. Ratings are copyright 1999 The Arbitron Company and may not be quoted or reproduced without the prior written permission of Arbitron.

1. KSCA (6.9) 2. KLVE (6.5) 3. KLAX, KPWR (4.1) 5. KFI (3.9) 6. KKBT (3.8) 7. KOST, KIIS-FM (3.6) 9. KTWV, KROQ (3.5)

11. KRTH (3.0) 12. KCMG (2.8) 13. KYSR (2.5) 14. KABC, KBIG, KLSX (2.4) 17. KCBS-FM, KLAC, KLOS (2.3) 20. KZLA (2.2)

21. KNX (2.1) 22. KFWB (2.0) 23. KSSE, KBUA/KBUE (1.9) 25. KKGO (1.8) 26. KTNQ (1.7) 27. KJLH (1.2) 28. KACE/KRTO (0.9) 29. KIEV, KLYY, XTRA (0.8) 32. KRLA (0.6) 33. KXTA (0.4).


Copyright © 1999 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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