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John Lamb, Published August 26 2012

Local rock, pop stations move up in ratings; talk radio slips

FARGO – It’s more rock and less talk for Fargo-Moorhead radio listeners.

The bi-annual Arbitron report released earlier this month showed the three stations with the biggest bump up in numbers played rock and pop music. Meanwhile two talk stations had notable drops in top line numbers, which reflect listeners older than 12 from 6 a.m. to midnight.

The Fox had the biggest jump, going from an average quarter-hourly share of 3.6 in the last book, fall of 2011, to 6.9 in the spring 2012 book.

Y-94 and its contemporary pop format stayed on top of all music stations and second overall with an 11 share, up from 9.5.

Overall, KFGO maintained the top spot at 15.4 shares, down from 16.3.

Popster and its mix of pop and rock also improved, going from 2.7 to 4.9 shares.

Country rivals Bob and Froggy both garnered 8.1 shares after flip-flopping spots for the previous three books. The ratings were the third highest for this book.

“When you’re one, two and three, we know we’re doing something right.” John Austin, Radio Fargo-Moorhead, referring to his company’s KFGO and Y-94 topping the ratings and Bob tied for third.

Rival company Go Radio’s general manager, Michael Brooks, was happy with The Fox’s climb.

“There was a real big jump in the No. 2 music preference. Right behind country in this market is classic rock,” he said.

“There’s a huge appetite for classic rock in the market, and we’re the only station playing the music,” said Mike “Big Dog” Kapel, programming director at The Fox.

Kapel and his boss, Brooks, said Radio Fargo-Moorhead’s switch of 101.9 FM from classic rock to a conservative talk-show format opened the door for The Fox to make a move.

Austin wasn’t concerned with 101.9 FM Talk’s 1.6 share. The station’s previous identity, Rock 102, had a 4.1 share in the fall of 2011.

“That station is still in its infancy at this point,” Austin said, referring to this spring’s programming shift. “We didn’t expect much at this time just because it was so brand new and it takes people time to get that talk audience on the FM dial. Historically (talk stations) have been AM choices in this arena. With hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, we know that format is going to work.”

Another conservative talk station also slipped in the ratings. The Flag dropped from a 4.1 share to a 1.6.

WDAY-AM, owned by Forum Communications, which also owns The Forum, was not listed in the top line Arbitron ratings because the station does not subscribe to the service.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533