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Dave Roepke, Published August 15 2008

KFGO highest-rated in radio station war; Froggy tops Bob 95

Froggy remains well ahead in the country-radio rivalry, but news-talk station KFGO leapt to the top of the heap in the latest ratings of local radio listenership.

KFGO 790 AM dominated in the overall Arbitron ratings released Wednesday, taking a 16.6 share to swap spots with KVOX 99.9 FM, the longtime country-music station that topped the fall 2007 ratings. Froggy 99.9 came in second in the just-released ratings with an 11.5 share. KQWB 98.7 FM, the rock station Q98, had the third-highest share at 7.7.

KFGO’s good showing in the spring book may be due in part to the personality changes early this year at WDAY 970 AM, said Brian Meckler, a media buyer with Absolute Marketing Group in Moorhead.

The news-talk station lost its general manager and midmorning host, Scott Hennen, when he left to start his own station.

WDAY, which like The Forum is owned by Forum Communications Co., drew a 4.7 share compared to an 8.3 in the same period the year before.

Flooding in the spring and a strong start by the Minnesota Twins, whose radio broadcasts are on KFGO, also helped, said Nancy Odney, chief operating officer for Radio Fargo-Moorhead, the six-station group owned by Fargo radio mogul Jim Ingstad.

“I think our goal is to be indispensable to our listeners for breaking news and breaking weather,” Odney said.

Despite ceding the lead spot to KFGO, Froggy kept at bay country competitor Bob 95, which posted an overall share of 5.1 in its third ratings period. Market shares for both stations dropped, but the gap between the two increased from 5.8 to 6.4.

“In the realm of the country battle, I think the question has been answered soundly,” said Michael Brooks, general manager for Go Radio, the group of five local stations that includes Froggy.

Radio Fargo-Moorhead is pleased with the development of its station Bob 95, KBVB 95.1 FM, which has been heavily advertised in the past year.

“We’re so confident in our programming and personalities,” Odney said. “This is just a little dip.”

Odney said the signal of Bob 95 will soon be increased to the maximum strength allowed, putting it on par with Froggy’s signal, but no other major changes are planned.

Meckler said he’s not surprised Bob 95 still trails because Froggy has long been the No. 1 country station.

“It’s going to take a lot to catch them,” he said.

Brooks said though overall ratings for the top two country stations lagged, he doesn’t think it’s a sign that country’s draw is waning. “I don’t think you’re going to see any huge swings,” he said.

Overall listenership in the Fargo-Moorhead market ran about 95 percent, Brooks said, a slight increase from the fall 2007 ratings period.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535