Proving its initial rise to the top of the charts earlier this year was no fluke, Spanish-language station KLAX-FM (97.9) again dominated the Arbitron radio ratings and also became the top-rated station in the hotly contested morning-drive time slot, according to quarterly figures released Monday.
KLAX, which changed last August to its current format of contemporary ranchera music (the Spanish equivalent of country music), drew 7.2% of the Los Angeles-area audience in the ratings for the period from Jan. 7 to March 31 this year.
When KLAX first came out on top in January, there was considerable controversy within the radio industry, with some insiders questioning the methodology and validity of the ratings. Particularly vocal in their skepticism were officials at classic-rock station KLSX-FM (97.1), who claimed there might have been a mix-up since the call letters and dial positions of the two stations are similar. The most vocal was KLSX morning personality Howard Stern, who mocked the station in his characteristic fashion and vowed to conduct an investigation. Later, more quietly, station officials acknowledged they had become convinced of the ratings' veracity.
KLAX officials saw the second ratings win Monday as a kind of vindication.
"This will show the world that that first ratings book was not a fluke as everybody said," said KLAX General Manager Alfredo Rodriguez. "Maybe Mr. Stern will be quiet now. I want to hear what he has to say now."
Rodriguez said he is philosophical about the station's dramatic ascent.
"We went from a 5.3 share (of the audience) to a 7.2, which is not bad at all," he said. "I don't like to be arrogant. It's just tangible proof that we were on the right track from the beginning. I feel content and satisfied that our hard work is paying off. But you know how this game is. It goes up and down. Nothing is forever. I'll just enjoy it while it lasts."
KLAX's morning comedy team of Juan Carlos Hidalgo and El Peladillo (Jesus Garcia) drew 6.5% of the listening audience, beating out Stern, who remains the top English-speaking morning personality with 6.3% of the audience.
In third place during morning drive was longtime KIIS (102.7-FM and 1150-AM) personality Rick Dees, closely followed by KLOS-FM (95.5) duo Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps, and KABC-AM (790) veterans Ken Minyard and Roger Barkley.
Trailing KLAX in the overall station rankings was the soft-rocking KOST-FM (103.5), which averaged 6.6% of the audience from 6 a.m. to midnight. In third place was dance-music station KPWR-FM (105.9).
Talk station KFI-AM (640) tied with KIIS for fourth place overall and ranked 7th during morning drive.
The area's Top 15 stations and their Arbitron ratings for last fall and the more recent winter quarter:
FALL WINTER 1. KLAX-FM 5.3 7.2 2. KOST-FM 5.1 5.5 3. KPWR-FM 5.1 5.0 4. KIIS-AM/FM 4.2 4.4 5. KFI-AM 3.7 4.3 6. KABC-AM 3.5 3.9 6. KROQ-FM 3.8 3.9 8. KLSX-FM 3.6 3.8 8. KLOS-FM 3.2 3.8 10. KRTH-FM 4.4 3.7 11. KBIG-FM 3.7 3.5 12. KKBT-FM 3.1 3.4 13. KYSR-FM 2.6 3.0 14. KFWB-AM 2.6 2.9 15. KNX-AM 2.7 2.7
The ratings survey covers the period from Jan. 7 to March 31, 1993.