Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On Top of the Dial WAPE (95.1 FM) Returns to No. 1 in Local Ratings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On Top of the Dial WAPE (95.1 FM) Returns to No. 1 in Local Ratings

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Basch, Times-Union business writer

After dropping from its traditional spot at the top of the charts in the spring, pop hit station WAPE (95.1 FM) took advantage of summer vacation to regain the No. 1 ranking in the Jacksonville radio market, according to the latest data released by The Arbitron Co.

WAPE's overall rating jumped from 6.2 in the spring (representing the percentage of listeners age 12 and over during an average quarter-hour period) to 7.4 in the summer, vaulting the station from seventh to first in the ratings compiled by Arbitron.

Urban adult contemporary station WSOL (101.5 FM), which had been first in the spring with a 7.3 rating, maintained its 7.3 rating in the summer. But it fell to second place because of WAPE's surge.

WAPE's strength was no surprise to radio industry observers, because contemporary hit radio, a format also known as CHR, tends to do well in the summer months.

"Traditionally, CHR is thought to do better in the summer because many of its target listeners are out of school," said Tom Taylor, editor of radio industry publication M Street Journal. That gives them more time to listen to the radio.

WAPE had also been the top-rated station in the winter with a 7.4 rating, so its drop in the spring was surprising. Cat Thomas, operations manager for WAPE and five other Jacksonville radio stations owned by Cox Radio Inc., said the lower spring number might have been a statistical quirk in the Arbitron data.

"There was one month [in the spring ratings] where it seemed like we dropped off the face of the earth," Thomas said.

Just because WAPE moved back to the top in the summer doesn't mean it will stay there in the fall. With several stations bunched near the top, it's difficult to predict who will be No. 1.

"We're always going to be battling it out," said Thomas.

This fall will be watched even more closely for changes in the ratings, because radio listening habits likely changed after Sept. 11.

The summer ratings cover the period from June 28 through Sept. 19, so the data reflects one week of listening following the terrorist attacks.

Jacksonville's main news station, WOKV (600 AM), rose from a 4.4 rating in the spring to 5.1 in the summer. Whether that was helped by a big surge in the final week of the ratings period is not known, but it is very likely that listeners turned to the news station after Sept. 11.

"It's a question of who has the image [of news] in the market," said Taylor.

Another station that is likely picking up listeners is Jacksonville's public radio station, WJCT (89.9 FM). WJCT is not rated by Arbitron, which only provides data on commercial stations. But the Radio Research Consortium, a non-profit firm that provides research for non-commercial stations, reports that WJCT's rating rose from 2.2 in the spring to 2.5 in the summer.

"I would predict that would go up in the fall," said Taylor. …

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