Thursday, March 5, 2009

Turns out Phoenix is quite an unusual radio market

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Arizona State University public relations professor Len Gutman received an Arbitron diary for the spring 2008 rating period. So did his wife, Leslie, a stockbroker.

Arbitron is a company that sets advertising rates for local radio stations. It sends books to people like Gutman and they list what stations they listen to during a seven-day period.

Arbitron utilizes a formula that ranks stations according to responses they receive from the Gutmans and thousands of others. When the rankings are released, radio stations can raise -- or need to lower -- their rates according to their Arbitron ratings.

KESZ, the Beth and Bill station, will take a substantial hike in its rates after the winter Arbitron ratings. The station took a jump to nearly a 6 percent share of the radio audience, the highest of any radio station since quasi-news outlet KFYI reached that level in summer 2007.

Could it be playing holiday tunes over the winter months paid off? Usually, the station panders to Baby-Boomer tastes, but during the holidays, the station switches to Christmas music.

It could also be that Beth and Bill moved its annual Thanksgiving Day show to the East Valley from Paradise Valley Mall where it had held court for years. This move could have exposed the station to more listeners. It should be noted, the station was also No. 1 in fall 2007.

The Gutmans appear like they are not going to impact Phoenix radio advertising rates. "We only listen to XM satellite," Len said. He said Leslie listens to a Top 40 format (there really isn't a commercial Top 40 outlet in Phoenix) and CNBC. Gutman listens to a station that plays independent record labels and '80s music. Both on XM.

He also said he listens to "my (San Diego) Padres" ballgames, also available on satellite or Internet radio.

Gutman said he didn't know how Arbitrons worked until he received "the book," as those in the radio industry call it. He was in the dark about top-rated radio stations in Phoenix. "I believe KTAR would be Number 1 on AM and KMLE Number 1 on FM." Good guess.

Top-rated stations in Phoenix for the winter book of 2008 were: KESZ-FM (99.9), followed by KFYI-AM (550), and KHOT/KHOV-FM (105.3 and 105.9), a Spanish language simulcast owned by Univision, with most of its programming coming out of Los Angeles.

Those are the top three stations in Phoenix.

What an unusual radio market Phoenix appears to be. The fourth top-rated station is smooth jazz KYOT, followed by oldies station KOOL and then country outlet KNIX, all on the FM dial.

I would have thought KNIX would have come out higher than KYOT or KOOL during this rating period. They had the drama of Tim & Willy leaving the station and their final show during this rating sweep.

Dave Pratt's KMLE, a country station Gutman thought was tops, was No. 9. KTAR, which is now an FM station, held tight at No. 10, where it has been for several rating periods.

Goes to show people who got the book for the winter rating period were not that "into" country.

It will be interesting to see how listeners like the Gutmans impact the spring Arbitrons, which should be released early this summer