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John Lamb, Published February 02 2013

KFGO corners the market on talk

FARGO – While a battle wages for FM radio music listeners, with four stations within two ratings points of the top spot, there’s much less static on the AM dial.

KFGO maintained a solid lock on top overall ratings – listeners 21 and older from 6 a.m. to midnight – with a 15.2 market share in the fall 2012 Arbitron report. While that number is down slightly from the previous two biannual Arbitron books – 16.3 in fall of 2011 and 15.4 in spring of 2012 – the next closest station was pop music powerhouse Y94 FM with a 10.0 share.

A share is the percentage of listeners tuned to a particular station.

On the AM side, the gap is far greater. The closest station to “The Mighty 790” is WDAY 970, which earned a 2.6 share.

“To be No. 1 by that far, it just shows that the philosophy is working, so we’re pretty happy,” said Joel Heitkamp, who manages the talk-radio stations KFGO and the conservative KRWK, 101.9 Talk FM, for Radio Fargo Moorhead.

In talk radio, the bread and butter of the AM dial, KFGO shows roll over all other time-slot competitors, whether they are local voices or national pundits.

Even syndicated talk juggernaut Rush Limbaugh (Talk FM) can’t compete with Jack Sunday and Sandy Buttweiler, who held a 13 share compared to Rush’s 4.8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Three shows on The Fan covering that same slot, hosted by Paul Allen, Jack Michaels and Dan Cole respectively, combine for a 3.0 share.

Local hosts Scott Hennen on The Flag and Christopher Gabriel on WDAY pulled in 1.8 and 0.9 shares respectively during the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. time slot.

The disparity between KFGO and its head-to-head competitors grows from there.

From 2 to 5 p.m., Mike McFeely garnered a 12.5 share, besting syndicated Sean Hannity on Talk FM at 2.8 shares. The combination of Dan Cole and Dan Barreiro shows on The Fan got a 2.6, WDAY’s Jay Thomas a 2.3 and Laura Ingraham on The Flag a 2.0.

In the morning the difference is even more pronounced. Heitkamp’s show from 8:30 to 11 a.m. held the most shares at 20.3, easily outweighing “The Power Trip”/Paul Allen one-two, which rang in at 3.4. Mike Gallagher on The Flag got a 2.9 share. Glenn Beck on WDAY got a 2 before being swapped for Geraldo Rivera. Brian Kilmeade on Talk FM pulled down a 1.4.

From 6 to 8:30 a.m., Tom Wynn got a 19.2 share compared to WDAY’s local round up “First News” and Glenn Beck, which got a 4.7. The Fan’s “The Power Trip” got a 2.2, Bill Bennett on The Flag a 1.9 and Tom Becka on Talk FM earned a 1.4. Becka has since left and locals Derek Hanson and Tank McNamara have taken over.

“We kind of have the market,” Heitkamp said. “We’re doing really well. Our competitors didn’t have as good of a book.”

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