5/15/88-KUBE rules the roost – FM station sweeps the ratings

VICTOR STREDICKE May 15, 1988 -Squaring off against other stations in town, the contemporary hit-music radio station KUBE walloped them in radio’s winter ratings: It is the No. 1 station in Seattle.
KUBE is not only tops in the benchmark “12-plus” figures (all listeners 12 and older), but in most other desirable listener groups.

It marks only the second time that an FM station has officially been No. 1: KISW was a one-ratings-period One-der in 1981.

The recent Arbitron ratings, identified as the “winter book,” were conducted January through March, and the survey results are purchased by radio stations and advertising agencies to assist in placing advertising.

Ironically, KUBE does not buy the Arbitron package. It never has, relying instead on a second audience-measuring service, Birch Radio Ratings.

“We can’t really confirm Arbitron ratings,” says Gary Bryan, KUBE program director for the past year and a half. “But Birch ratings have shown us as No. 1 for the past four rating periods.

“Let’s just say it’s nice to be recognized by whatever measure you want to use.”

Adopting an “aw shucks” posture, Bryan said the success is because “we really believe in playing the hits – the music that people want to hear, and producing entertaining radio shows.”

But KUBE’s audience range astounds some in the broadcasting industry. It was No. 1 with men in the 18-to-34 age bracket, women 18 to 34, women 18 to 49, and adults 25 to 49. Other than teen males at night and adult males on weekends, KUBE ran away with the book.

In previous surveys, the station had been building to second or third position, capturing only a significant female market. Seattle advertising executive Mike Mogelgaard was one of those surprised as he pulled

demographic information from a computer.

“Counting listeners ages 12 to 90 doesn’t mean a thing to agencies,” he explained. “Nobody buys a commercial because of those figures.”

Mogelgaard said KUBE’s specific demographic groups, though, make it a desirable station.

Traditionally, the winter ratings have not been significant for radio sales since advertisers make most of their buys based on spring and fall ratings.

But there are several changes in the marketplace, addressed in this book: The new-age music of KNUA didn’t keep all the audience it had in its first book; Sonics basketball games helped KJR boost its nighttime audience; lackluster Husky basketball and preseason Mariner games might be a reason KIRO numbers dropped. And this might not be a representative book for KBSG, which changed to an oldies format midcycle.

Winter activities also explain why your favorite radio station spent so much time giving away trips to Mexico and the Caribbean and repeating ratings-related catch phrases such as the station’s call letters and “Write it down,” designed to snare one of the fewer than 1,000 people who send in usable ratings reports.

KUBE was recently acquired by Cook Inlet Radio Partners, part of a six-station purchase from First Broadcasting. It looks like a wise investment. KUBE’s success, in the 12-plus figures at least, seems to to have come from a variety of sources.

KIRO, the news-and-sports station that previously dominated the top spot, dropped from 9.1 last winter to the 8.9 share this winter, not a significant amount. But it looks worse if you compare the station’s fall share of 11.3.

KIRO, incidentally, continues to attract the largest total number of listeners in the weekday morning drive-time period and in the 7-to-midnight slot.

KOMO, with news and easy-listening music, dropped more than two shares from last winter, and other rock stations dropped a decimal point or two while country-music stations dropped a share.

Stations up from last winter’s survey include KBRD, KPLZ, KXRX, KMGI, KLSY-AM-FM KSEA and KIXI.

Twisting the dial

— Larry Nelson, KOMO’s patriarch of morning radio, will be teamed with his son, Jeff Nelson, morning personality on KITZ, a Silverdale station, during a “combined” broadcast from a Skagit Valley community event on Friday.

— Nes Rodriguez and KKFX parted company after nearly eight years. The station offered Rodriguez his first job, right out of high school. John Blanks has moved into the 7 p.m.-to-midnight shift at KKFX, 1250 kHZ.

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times (1964-1989). --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke

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