The Canadian Fall 2007 radio ratings are out. BBM has a breakdown of some markets.
First a note about the lingo, in case you don’t work in radio. Share is the percentage of people listening to your station, out of the total number of people listening. It’s a station’s share of the pie. Demographics, or demo, in this case refers to Male or Female. Daypart refers to the time of day. The most valuable time of day for radio stations (unlike television were 7pm-10pm is prime time), is morning drive 6am-10am and afternoon drive 3pm-7pm. Also, I did my best to get all the numbers accurate but keep in mind this is a BLOG and I’ve taken the liberty to editorialize and summarize the data. And by way of disclosure, I have worked for both radio companies, Harvard (The Wolf, CKRM, Lite 92) and Rawlco (Z99, Jack FM, CJME) but am no longer employed with either of them. I do however do some contract work with Rawlco which I really enjoy because it’s nice to see old friends again. On with the show…
Here are the private radio stations in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada…
104.9 The Wolf (a mix of new rock and classic rock)
Z99 (HOT AC, a mix of adult friendly new music, mixed with retro hits from the 80’s and 90’s)
Jack FM (mostly classic rock with some tamer new rock)
Lite 92 FM (Adult Contemporary, think John Tesh)
620 CKRM (Country, with sports games at night like the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Regina Pats)
980 CJME (Newstalk)
In Regina not much has changed. Out of six private stations, 104.9 The Wolf is number one with males in all demos and dayparts with the exception of M-F evenings 18-24 where Z99 did very well with a 32 share compared with an 18.1 for The Wolf. The Wolf also did very well with younger female demographic, they came in at #2 Female (18-34).
Z99 owns the female 18-54 demo. They came in number one all dayparts females 18-54. During drive time (3p-7p) Z99 crushed the Wolf with females 18-34 with a 38.6 share compared with The Wolf’s 18.6. The same was true of evenings. Zed had 42.1, The Wolf had 17.2. (again, females 18-34).
AM stalwart 620 CKRM looks strong when you look at Adults 12+. They are number one in the morning 6a-10a with a 21.4 share. However that is the only demo and daypart where they are number one. In all other dayparts and demos they are either fourth, fifth or last. If you are only number one when you take 12+ numbers that usually means you have an older audience. Take adults 18-24, CKRM drops to third or fourth. Adults 18-34 they drop to fifth with a 4.6 share during drive. Even adults 25-54 the best they can do is forth, during the morning show where they have a 10.8. They are in fifth place during the day and evening. Obviously, broadcasting the Saskatchewan Roughrider football games really helped CKRM this year. But clearly their audience is aging and rural. If you’re selling farm implements you’ll do okay on CKRM, otherwise stick with the FM stations.
Next we have Lite 92 and 94.5 Jack FM. Both stations are 4th and 5th in all dayparts and demos. Jack comes up last with adults 12+ during the key morning time slot 6a-10p. Even if you look at adults 25-54 they are second last with a 9.0 share (compared with The Wolf’s 21.5 share). The only way for Jack FM to get a decent number in the morning is to exclude females and look at males 25-54, there they are third with a 12.9 share. As for Lite 92, they are fourth, adults 12+ with a 9.6 share in the morning. However, they come in second with a 19.1 share females 25-54. But that’s nowhere near the massive numbers Z99 has in that demo and daypart, Zed has a 28.3 share.
And finally, 980 CJME, the Newstalk station. The best number they posted was a 11.3 share, males 25-54 during the morning show (6a-10a) That was good enough for fourth. Otherwise CJME comes in last or second last in every other daypart and demo, ranging from a 4 to an 8 share. I’ve always found it odd that talk radio here doesn’t post better numbers. In many other major markets the number one station is often talk; Vancouver (CKNW #1 with a 10 share), Edmonton (CHED #1 with a 11.7 share), Calgary (CHQR #1 with a 10.5 share), Winnipeg (CJOB #1 with a 17.2 share! The next closest has a 10.3). With the provincial election this fall things were certainly hopping in the news world, but CJME (and the story is much the same for Newstalk 650 in Saskatoon) has never really been able to crack through that 10 share very often. Maybe Saskatchewan likes to rock more than they like to talk.
In summary, there is no question that 104.9 The Wolf and Z99 are the biggest and most powerful radio stations in Regina. For advertisers who want a male audience, you buy The Wolf, if you want females, you buy Z99. CKRM is very rural and a much older audience.
The biggest problem for Lite 92 and Jack FM is they are very similar to the much more established Wolf and Zed. Lite is Z99 with all the edgier songs filtered out, Jack is The Wolf, with the edgier and newer songs filtered out. There is too much overlap. Four stations going after the same audience. That doesn’t scale in a city as small as Regina. There are certain artists, Nickelback for example, that when they come on, you can’t be sure if you’re listening to The Wolf, Z99 or Jack.
If private commercial radio wants to compete with iPods, satellite radio, streaming, downloading, gaming devices and on and on, there has to be some thought given to increasing the VARIETY. Allow some things to DISTINGUISH yourself from the competitor. Do something DIFFERENT and UNIQUE instead of programming the way you did 20 years ago. Allow PERSONALITIES to shine, let the funny people do the FUNNY and quit MICROMANAGING everything! The suits should not be telling the TALENT what’s funny. The sales department should have NO SAY in what gets played or talked about by PROGRAMMING. If you let sales sell, programmers program, reporters report and let announcers communicate in an authentic and real way, things might just work out okay.
And a final thought about these ratings. They mean absolutely NOTHING. What really matters is the relationships the sales department makes with clients and the results they get from their ads. Boots through the front door is much more important than some numbers on a page. What matters is good music and great personalities that make you laugh and bring everyone together.
Also, the sample sizes of these radio surveys are way too small. I’m hardly a statistician, in fact I suck at math, but I will weigh in on this anyway. Ever read political polls? They usually end with the disclaimer that the survey of 1200 people was conducted with a margin of error of 3.1, 19 times out of 20 (or something like that). Well I can tell you that radio ratings are often calculated with fewer that 500 people. Sometimes only 200 or so ballots are returned, to represent a population of 250-thousand! That is absurd! You see, the BBM diary system relies on people returning the ballots accurately. Many people don’t bother and often they refer to the wrong radio station. In the U.S., their ratings company Arbitron is experimenting with Portable People Meters. These are electronic devices that people carry around with them and they measure (using sound) what radio stations they come in contact with. Don’t ask me how this works, but they know the diary system is antiquated and not very accurate. Here’s hoping Canada gets some better metrics.