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KBIG-FM slips back to third as KIIS regains top ratings

KBIG, most recently tied at first place with KIIS, drops to third as KFI-AM sees a slight rise.

October 30, 2012|By Steve Carney
  • In the highly competitive morning drive-time, KFI once more led the way.
In the highly competitive morning drive-time, KFI once more led the way. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles…)

After a month in the rarefied air of first place — the culmination of a strong year in the radio ratings — adult-contemporary station KBIG-FM (104.3) dropped back to third in October, according to figures released this week by Arbitron.

Meanwhile, the morning audience for news and information station KPCC-FM (89.3) has ballooned since the summer, in spite of upheaval at its homegrown show.

An 11th-place station a year ago, KBIG — known as "MYfm" — surged in 2012, riding a broad playlist that included music from artists ranging from otherworldly chanteuse Lady Gaga to banjo-driven throwback act Mumford & Sons, helping it challenge the supremacy of Top 40 station KIIS-FM (102.7) and talk station KFI-AM (640), the two outlets that had spent the year battling for No. 1 in the Los Angeles-Orange County ratings.

KBIG had tied with pop station KIIS-FM (102.7) atop the ratings in September, both grabbing 5.2% of the total audience ages 6 and older, with KFI just behind at 4.8%. But in the most recent survey period, covering Sept. 13 to Oct. 10, KBIG slipped to 5%, while KFI rose to 5.1% and KIIS jumped ahead of them all to 5.6%.

In the highly competitive morning drive-time, KFI once more led the way. In the 6-10 a.m. slot, when large numbers of people are listening as they head for work and school, KFI features local host Bill Handel and the first hour of Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated show. They garnered 7.3% of the listening audience, up slightly from the previous four-week period.

Alternative rock station KROQ-FM (106.7), featuring Kevin Ryder and Gene "Bean" Baxter, and Ryan Seacrest on KIIS remained in second and third place, respectively.

Below them, stations jockeyed for position, as usual. But the biggest push came from KPCC, whose morning schedule features National Public Radio's newsmagazine "Morning Edition" until 9 a.m., then the first hour of local show "Take Two," with hosts Alex Cohen and A Martinez.

In morning drive, KPCC added a whopping 120,000 listeners in just two months — jumping from 322,000 people who tuned in for at least five minutes per week in August, to an average of 422,000 in October — during a span in which it changed hosts and show names twice.

On Aug. 20, KPCC brought on Martinez, a former sports-talk radio host, to pair with Madeleine Brand on her 2-year-old morning program, renamed it "Brand & Martinez" and expanded to two hours.

"Our goal was to continue serving the audience we already reach," said Bill Davis, president of Southern California Public Radio, which operates KPCC, while adding a co-host who could appeal to a multiethnic audience. But Brand left a month later — resurfacing at public-television station KCET this week — and KPCC tapped in-house news anchor Cohen to replace her and renamed the show "Take Two."

"We were hoping to have a program that was more accurately reflective of the Angeleno experience," Davis said. "A is somebody who has a very inclusive personality, is intelligent and affable, and he and Alex sound great together."

He said the show's evolution "wasn't how we drew it up in the playbook," but "we are very pleased with the initial results, and we hope to continue to build on them."

KPCC will probably need to see a year's worth of figures to really gauge how the show is doing, Davis said, as "you never can just assume that any one month's data are going to be anything you can hang your hat on."

Davis noted that the percentage of "Take Two's" audience that is Latino rose from 6.5% in August to 20% in September and 25% in October.

The station's morning audience share has risen less dramatically, going from 2.3% in August to 2.7% in October, moving it from a tie for 16th place to a tie for 12th. That's because many of the new listeners have been tuning in for brief periods, compared with the majority of listeners in previous months, who typically remained with KPCC for longer chunks of time.

"Now the question is, can we move people who are coming in to sample, make sure they keep coming back, month after month, year after year?" Davis said.

The October ratings period also was the first exclusively for Heidi Hamilton and Frank Kramer, who replaced 25-year morning veterans Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps on rock station KLOS-FM (95.5). The latter duo retired from the station Aug. 17, but KLOS aired "best of" shows until Sept. 4, when Hamilton and Kramer took the reins. They slipped from 2.4% and 18th place in September, to 2.1% and 20th in October.

Another big gainer was Ricardo Sanchez "El Mandril" on regional Mexican music station KLAX-FM (97.9), who rebounded from a poor September showing. He had tied for seventh in the morning in August at 3.3%, then fell to 16th and 2.7% in September. In October he jumped all the way back to fifth, at 3.8%.

calendar@latimes.com

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