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Posted 24 Jul 2001   For week ended July 20, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 19Jul01

By Kent Larsen

Ratings Say Bonneville Format Change Right Move

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- The Spring radio ratings for Chicago show strong ratings for Bonneville International's new radio station, WDRV, indicating that Bonneville's critics may have been wrong about the station's change of format from classical to classic hits. The ratings gave WDRV, "The Drive," a 2.2 percent share of listeners, up from 1.3 percent when the station was known as WNIB last Winter. They also show that WDRV didn't take listeners away from its sister station, WLUP.

Bonneville's purchase of then-WNIB from long-time owners William and Sonia Florian drew criticism from classical music fans, who rightly feared that Bonneville would change the station's format, leaving Chicago with just one classical music station, WFMT. Fans of WNIB generally didn't like WFMT because of its play list. However, the recent ratings show that in spite of the fact that WNIB had 1.3% of listeners last Winter (who are presumably not listening to WDRV now), the remaining classical station, WFMT, did not see an increase in listeners in the Spring, implying that WNIB's listeners have either switched to another format or stopped listening to the radio.

After Bonneville decided to change the station's call letters to WDRV and format to "classic hits," competitors claimed that the new format was too close to its sister station, WLUP, which plays "classic rock," and said WDRV would only get an audience at the expense of WLUP. However, the new ratings show that they were also wrong. The ratings showed that in spite of WDRV's increased share, WLUP remained at about 2.5% of listeners.

Other Bonneville stations in Chicago also remained at about the same share of listeners in the Spring. Its highest-rated station, WTMX, "The Mix," was 8th overall, with 3.5% of listeners. It was also 4th among stations in the highly desirable 25-to-54 age category and the top station in the morning drive-time for that category. Bonneville also owns WNND and WNIZ in Chicago.

Like most of the radio industry, Bonneville restructured following the deregulation of the radio spectrum in 1996, which allowed companies like Bonneville to own up to eight stations in a single market. [The previous limit was nationwide] Bonneville has bought and sold stations in recent years to concentrate its holdings in St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Washington DC and San Francisco. Normally, a company's stations in a single market share overhead, office space, management, advertising sales staff, etc., significantly cutting costs while increasing revenues.


Format shift to classic hits lifts WDRV-FM
Chicago Tribune 18Jul01 B4
By Jim Kirk: Tribune marketing columnist

Radio newcomers a hit with audience
Chicago Sun-Times 18Jul01 B4
By Robert Feder: Sun-Times columnist

See also:

WNIB renamed WDRV by Bonneville International

News Analysis: Bonneville Faces Future of Radio

Bonneville Joins Broadcasters in Suit Over Webcast Royalties

Bonneville Buys Chicago's WNIB, Fans Fear Format Change

LDS Church's Bonneville Communications Swaps LA Station for 4 in St. Louis

LDS Church-owned Radio Station air's childbirth


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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information