After being bounced by urban contemporary WHUR-FM (96.3) in the last ratings book, easy listening WGAY-FM (99.5) has regained a solid lead in the fragmented Washington radio market.
But the success story of the Arbitron Ratings quarterly report, released this week, is WCXR-FM (105.9). The classic rock station, which focuses on the hottest album rock stars but goes beyond their best-known songs to present a survey of their work, debuted Jan. 27, three weeks after the rating period started, didn't advertise until the following month -- and galloped right into the Top 10.
"We just shot through the ceiling," observed WCXR General Manager William Sherard. "It indicates there was a clear hole in the market. We have been getting more mail than I have had in 29 years in radio." The station earned a 4.1 share of the audience. And its initial popularity may account in part for the drop in ratings for album rock WWDC-FM (101.1).
Meanwhile, WCXR's conversion from the old WPKX left the country field in the immediate listening area to WMZQ-FM (98.7). WMZQ made an impressive gain from a 3.5 share in the fall to a 5.0 this quarter, and station spokesman Debbie White said the gain was due to both the gap in the market and the station's consistency.
Consistency was the buzzword over at WGAY as well. "A lot of easy listening stations are playing a lot of vocals, a lot of contemporary vocals, and some have gone so far that the listeners are confused. We have changed, but slowly and carefully," said Operations Manager Bob Chandler.
WHUR's Program Director Jesse Fax said he didn't have an easy explanation for the losses many stations experienced, but said that the competition among the three urban stations -- WHUR, WKYS-FM (93.9) and WDJY-FM (100.3) -- is still challenging. Various on-air and internal changes at WRQX-FM (107.3) didn't affect its status as the favored Top 40 station, though it and its main competitor, WAVA-FM (105.1), only showed slight changes in the 12 and older audience.
The winter 1986 Arbitron report, based on diaries kept between Jan. 9 and April 2, are as follows:
Winter l986 Fall 1985
1. WGAY-FM 7.2 8.0
2. WHUR-FM 6.7 8.6
3. WKYS-FM 6.6 7.0
WMAL-AM 6.6 7.1
4. WMZQ-FM 5.0 3.5
WWDC-FM 5.0 6.5
5. WTOP-AM 4.7 4.5
6. WRQX-FM 4.4 4.3
7. WLTT-FM 4.3 4.0
8. WAVA-FM 4.1 4.0
WCXR-FM 4.1 -- --
9. WDJY-FM 3.8 3.8
10. WGMS-FM/AM 3.5 2.7
11. WCLY-FM 3.0 3.2
12. WWRC-AM 2.7 2.1
13. WBMW-FM 2.4 2.4
14. WXTR-FM/AM 2.1 2.7
15. WASH-FM 1.7 2.7
17. WTKS-FM 1.6 1.5
18. WHFS-FM 1.3 1.8
19. WYCB-AM 1.2 1.0 Another Classic
The management at WCXR is hoping to duplicate its "classic" success by converting its AM partner to a new station, WCPT-AM (730), featuring the best of soul and rock oldies. Calling itself "Washington's Heart and Soul" and specializing predominantly in black music from the late 1950s to late 1970s, the station hopes to find other disenfranchised parts of the baby boomer audience.
"It is the closest thing to a 'Big Chill' format that there is. It focuses on many soul music artists of the era. It is Diana Ross, Otis Redding, B. B. King, the Righteous Brothers," said Sherard. The format is a syndicated service produced by Satellite Music Network in Dallas. Sherard said the company's research showed that the favorite songs requested by their target audience were "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke and "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green. Awards
The United Press International Excellence in Broadcast Journalism committee this week cited WTOP-AM (1500) for best newscast and best spot news. The newscast cited was election day in November 1985, and the spot news was the story of the flooding in the Washington area Nov. 6. WBAL-AM, a Baltimore news and talk outlet, also won several of the regional awards, including one to Mark Weaver, son of Jackson Weaver of WMAL-AM (630), for a documentary on Vietnam veterans.
WWDC-FM will turn out in force to applaud the runners in the annual Blake Heart Run for the American Heart Association. Dave Brown, Cerphe Colwell, Doug (Greaseman) Tracht and Carl Foster are expected tomorrow at 8 a.m. in West Potomac Park . . . WKYS is an official cosponsor of the Washington stretch of WalkAmerica, the annual 18-mile event that benefits the March of Dimes. WKYS will be at the starting point at the Sylvan Theater, and Kevin James will be among the walkers. Gene Packard and Les Carpenter of WWRC-AM (980) will be at Kalorama Park in Adams-Morgan. Chris Jagger of WRQX plans to walk the distance and Gary Spears, David Page, Max, Sandy Weaver and Celeste Clark will be cheering him on at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center. Keith MacDonald, Mary Bartone, Katy Daley and Dennis Crowley of WMZQ will be at the boat landing near the Kennedy Center. In Fairfax, WBMW-FM (106.7) will be at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston. And WXTR-FM (104.1) will cheer the walkers from White Plains Regional Park in Charles County . . . The softball team of WDJY will face opponents from International Telephone and Telegraph Sunday at 1:30 in a contest for the Easter Seal Society. Location: 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue NW. An Early Stretch
Richard Simmons, the exercise guru, will be joining Jim Elliott and Scott Woodside of WRQX in a remote broadcast from Western Plaza Tuesday. Simmons will conduct two classes, one at 7:15 a.m. in aerobics, another at 8:15 for the physically disabled.