Thursday, August 7, 2014

On radio, it's the summer of "Lake"

While country stations often top the charts in Charlotte, it is rare to see a lineup like the overall August rankings released this week in which WKKT-FM and WSOC-FM come out so far ahead of the city’s two urban powerhouses, WPEG-FM and WBAV-FM.

Though the country stations have been near the top of the rankings and both have showed growth since the beginning of summer (WKKT-FM surged 37% and WSOC-FM was up 13%), urban music still dominated overall. By market share, the country stations had about 16% of the audience while urbans claimed about 19%. Christian and gospel formats attracted about 9%.

Charlotte’s news stations lost listeners during the summer, as is common in the slower news cycle. WBT-AM is off 22% and WFAE-FM is down 19% since summer began. They tend to rebound in the fall each year, though WBT’s summer sag is bigger than normal. Radio One’s WOSF-FM and WPZS-FM land in the top 10 once again, continuing their strong showings since their parent company began providing them more resources. 

But it is Clear Channel’s WLKO-FM that is the big story on the dial since its format change last summer from adult contemporary (it used to be called “Lite”) to a “we play anything” rotation. It is No. 4 in town now and up 52% in share since the beginning of the summer.

WLKO is the most successful launch of a Charlotte station in a quarter century – since the 1988 debut of WCKZ-FM, which was nicknamed “Kiss 102” (Yes, it was the city’s original “Kiss”). It had an edgy blend of urban contemporary and top 40 that shot it near the top of the rankings. 

Old-timers will remember the morning team of Chuck “Boo” Baron and Mike Beach. Before that, you have to go back to the 1960s when “Big Ways” burst on the scene, which remains the most successful start-up station in Charlotte history since WBT-AM took to the airwaves in the 1920s.

Radio Rankings
Here are the latest rankings of leading Charlotte-area radio stations by share of audience from Nielsen. Some stations, like WXRC-FM (“The Ride” 95.7) and WGIV-FM (103.3), do not subscribe to Nielsen and are not ranked.
1. WKKT-FM  Country, “Kat” 96.9 8.1%
2. WRFX-FM Rock, “Fox” 99.7 7.8%
3. WSOC-FM Country, 103.7 7.7%
4. WLKO-FM Hits, “Lake” 102.9 7.3%
5. WPEG-FM Urban, “Power 98” 97.9 7.2%
6. WOSF-FM Urban oldies, “Old school” 105.1 5.9%
7. WBAV-FM Urban contemporary, “V” 101.9 5.7%
8. WKQC-FM Contemporary, “K” 104.7 5.4%
9. WPZS-FM Gospel, “Praise” 100.9 5.1%
10. WNKS-FM Pop, “Kiss” 95.1 4.0%
11. WLNK-FM Contemporary, “Link” 107.9 3.9%
12. WHQC-FM Pop, “Channel” 96.1 3.8%
13. WRCM-FM Christian, “New Life” 91.9 2.8%
14. WBT-AM News/Talk, 1110  2.4%
15. WEND-FM Rock, “End” 106.5  2.2%
15. WFAE-FM NPR, 90.7  2.2%
17. WFNZ-AM Sports talk, “Fan” 610 1.0%
18. WDAV-FM Classical, 89.9 0.8%
19. WMIT-FM Christian, “Light” 106.9 0.7%
20. WBCN-AM Sports talk, 1660 0.3%
Source: Nielsen