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TELEVISION & RADIO

KXOL's format switch wins, in any language

Station, which changed to bilingual broadcasts and reggaeton music, doubles its ratings.

October 18, 2005|Martin Miller | Times Staff Writer

Pop station KIIS-FM (102.7) held on to its top ranking, but the biggest winner in the local radio ratings was a bilingual station that recently switched to the hot new musical style of reggaeton, according to figures released Monday by the Arbitron ratings service.

KXOL-FM (96.3), after dumping its former Spanish contemporary format in late May, more than doubled its ratings and tied for first among Spanish-language stations. The station, owned by Miami-based Spanish Broadcasting System Inc., highlights reggaeton, an upbeat genre with Panamanian and Puerto Rican roots, and targets the ages 18-to-34 demographic. Its ratings leaped from just 2% this spring to 4.2% for the summer, going from No. 18 in the overall ratings to No. 2.

The station broadcasts in English and Spanish in an effort to court the city's vast numbers of bilingual youth, according to David Haymore, general manager of Spanish Broadcasting System in Los Angeles.

"We literally did away with the language designation," said Haymore. "It let us focus on the youth of Los Angeles and create a radio station that gives them a music mix of reggaeton and hip-hop, which is who they are and how they feel."

Meanwhile, KIIS, which plays a mix of rock, pop and rap, topped the ratings among listeners 12 and older in spite of an overall ratings dip. KIIS' numbers include ratings for KVVS-FM (97.7), on which their programming is simulcast, and dropped from a 4.7% audience share to 4.4%.

"It's about balance, and we seem to have found the right mix," said John Ivey, head of programming in Los Angeles for Clear Channel Communications, the national radio chain that owns KIIS and more than half a dozen other stations in the market. "This is our second time as No. 1 and make us look like we're for real."

The survey saw a further slip for one-time undisputed king of local radio KPWR-FM (105.9), whose ratings fell from 4.2% to 4%. The hip-hop station stood atop the ratings for three years until being unseated by KIIS in the last major ratings period.

Spanish-language station KVLE-FM (107.5) also finished with a 4.2%. The move for both stations puts a little more distance between them and fellow Spanish-language stations KLAX-FM (97.9) and KSCA-FM (101.9), which logged in at 3.7% and 3.5%, respectively.

Meanwhile, KCBS-FM (93.1) continued its climb up the charts, disproving industry naysayers who had been dismissing the station's iPod shuffle-like format as a fad. In March, the station killed its classic rock format in favor of "Jack FM," which features triple the playlist of most other radio stations and no disc jockeys. Its overall ratings improved from 3% in the spring to 3.4% for the summer.

"We're constantly tweaking the format, unlike a lot of other stations that rely on the same old library," said Kevin Weatherly, program director at KCBS. "When we put this whole thing on, we didn't know what shape it would take, but listeners are really responding."

More important to advertisers is the station's No. 1 ranking among the highly coveted 25-to-54 demographic. In that group for the summer, the station jumped from a 4.3% to 5.0%.

"No. 1 in the 25-to-54 in Los Angeles is the grand prize of radio," said Perry Michael Simon, news-talk-sports editor of AllAccess.com, an online journal of the radio industry. "If they can maintain that for any period of time, they'll make a fortune."

The latest Arbitron ratings cover the period between July 1 and Sept. 22. Ratings from this period are highly prized but still considered less valuable than rankings in the spring and fall. Advertisers realize summer schedules for many are atypical because most schools are out and people are often on vacation.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Radio ratings

The area's top 25 stations and their average share of audience as measured by Arbitron for the summer months compared with the previous three-month period.

*--* Current Last Quarter 1 KIIS-FM/KVVS-FM 4.4 4.7 2 KXOL-FM 4.2 2.0 KVLE-FM 4.2 4.0 4 KFI-AM 4.0 3.9 KPWR-FM 4.0 4.2 6 KROQ-FM 3.8 3.7 7 KLAX-FM 3.7 4.0 8 KSCA-FM 3.5 4.0 9 KCBS-FM 3.4 3.0 10 KOST-FM 3.1 3.7 11 KTWV-FM 3.0 3.8 KHHT-FM 3.0 2.9 13 KRTH-FM 2.7 2.5 14 KABC-FM 2.5 2.1 KLSX-FM 2.5 2.3 KKBT-FM 2.5 3.2 17 KBUE-FM 2.3 2.5 KSSE-FM 2.3 2.4 KBIG-FM 2.3 1.9 20 KLOS-FM 2.1 2.0 21 KZLA-FM 1.9 1.8 22 KYSR-FM 1.8 1.9 23 KNX-AM 1.7 1.5 24 KRCD-FM 1.6 1.5 KMZT-FM 1.6 1.6

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The ratings survey covers people 12 and older listening between 6 a.m. and midnight, from July 1 to Sept. 22.

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