Country goes to town in spring ratings O's poor start, national trends cited by stations

July 21, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Following a strong national trend, and perhaps responding to the Baltimore Orioles' poor early season, local radio listeners broke recent tradition and made country music station WPOC-FM (93.1) the top-ranked station in the spring ratings.

The station's audience among viewers 12 and older grew from an 8.2 share in the winter ratings to an 8.9 for the spring, April through June.

News/talk WBAL-AM (1090), which for four years has dominated the spring and summer ratings with big audiences for Baltimore Orioles broadcasts, remained in second place, where it ranked behind WPOC in the winter, growing only slightly in the quarter from a 7.7 share to 7.8.

"I think that there's just continued growth of country music. We're very pleased," says Jennifer Grimm, WPOC general manager.

The trade publication Inside Radio this week reports a record 2,600 stations in the United States now program the country format. It is the most popular sound, well ahead of the 1,598 stations doing the second-ranked "adult contemporary" music (previously known as Top 40).

"It's real listenable adult music. . . . I think people can relate more to the artists," Ms. Grimm says.

"The Orioles' slow start this year definitely had an impact" on the ratings, says Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL vice president and station manager. He says that only two weeks of the Birds' pre-All Star Game winning streak were reflected in the ratings.

"And country music is a hot format. I can't take anything away from WPOC," he says.

Mr. Beauchamp says WBAL's cumulative audience, representing an estimated total number of listeners per week, continued to outrank WPOC's "cume," 407,100 to 373,600.

The spring ratings also were notable for a widening gap between the top two stations and the remainder of the top 10 outlets. WBAL's 7.8 share was almost two full points higher than third place WXYV-FM 102.7's 5.9. Yet less than one full rating share separated the next five stations.

TOP 10 RADIO STATIONS

Following are the Arbitron rankings and audience share for listeners 12 and older for Baltimore's top 10 radio stations. (Each share represents about 3,600 listeners in an average quarter hour.)

F: Station .. .. .. .. .. Winter '93 .. .. .. Spring '93

1. WPOC-FM (93.1) .. .. .. 8.2 .. .. .. .. .. 8.9

2. WBAL-AM (1090) .. .. .. 7.7 .. .. .. .. .. 7.8

3. WXYV-FM (102.7) .. .. ..6.7 .. .. .. .. .. 5.9

4. WQSR-FM (105.7) .. .. ..5.2 .. .. .. .. .. 5.7

5. WLIF-FM (101.9) .. .. ..7.2 .. .. .. .. .. 5.6

6. WWMX-FM (106.5) .. .. ..5.3 .. .. .. .. .. 5.4

7. WERQ-FM (92.3) .. .. .. 4.0 .. .. .. .. .. 5.2

8. WCBM-AM (680).. .. .. ..5.1 .. .. .. .. .. 4.8

9. WIYY-FM (97.9) .. .. .. 4.0 .. .. .. .. .. 4.2

10. WVRT-FM (104.3).. .. ..2.7 .. .. .. .. .. 3.2

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