Simulcasts Add to WOKV's Boon; More Tune in to Its Popular News-Talk Radio Programming

By Patton, Charlie | The Florida Times Union, August 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

Simulcasts Add to WOKV's Boon; More Tune in to Its Popular News-Talk Radio Programming


Patton, Charlie, The Florida Times Union


Byline: CHARLIE PATTON

As it approaches two anniversaries, WOKV (690 AM), long Jacksonville's most listened to news-talk radio station, is more popular than ever.

The station will observe its 25th anniversary in the news-talk format in October and began simulcasting its mix of local news and national talk on both AM and FM frequencies about 11 months ago. Since then, it has become, by at least one measure, a close second to WQIK (99.1 FM) for the title "most-listened to station in Jacksonville," said WOKV program director Mike Dorwart.

WOKV, which has been broadcasting on the 690 AM frequency since 1994, began simulcasting on 106.5 FM on Oct. 1 after Cox Radio, which has owned WOKV since 1999, bought the station from Salem Communications.

WOKV simulcast its programming for about 18 months in the early 1990s, but the idea was shelved when the station was sold.

News-talk stations simulcasting on both AM and FM isn't a trend yet, but it could become one, said Michael Harrison, founder and publisher of Talkers magazine, the industry trade publication for news-talk radio.

"It's just smart," Harrison said. "Everything sounds better on FM."

Harrison noted that by putting its broadcast on an FM frequency, a news-talk station can attract listeners who don't usually tune into the AM dial. They also tend to attract younger listeners and more women than the typical AM audience, he said.

By AM radio standards, WOKV has been successful for years. But moving to FM as well has made a big impact, Dorwart said. WOKV still draws about 60 percent of its audience from the AM signal, he said.

In the summer before WOKV added the FM signal, an average of about 8,000 people listened during each 15-minute period. In the first three months after simulcasting began, the number increased to about 11,200 per quarter-hour, ratings show.

Until the late 1970s, the news-talk format didn't exist. But as the superior sound of the FM signal made it increasingly difficult for AM stations to compete, "AM radio was saved by talk," Harrison said. …

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