Washington's 27 1/2-year sunrise veterans, WMAL-AM's (630) Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver, continued to dominate morning listening habits this spring, despite a strong rebound from WWDC-FM's (101.1) Doug (Greaseman) Tracht and the almost constant taunting by WAVA-FM's (105.1) brash "Morning Zoo" team.
According to the spring Arbitron Ratings Survey of listeners 12 years and older, one of every 10 radios was tuned to Harden and Weaver. The duo slipped one-tenth of a point, to a 10 percent share of the listening audience, but still beat DC-101's Greaseman, whose 7.7 was up significantly from his winter 5.1. The Greaseman, who has signed a new contract that station managment says will keep him at DC-101 through 1990, also rated high in the Baltimore market, where he ranked seventh in the mornings with a 4.7 share.
WAVA's Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara tumbled to a 7.5 from an 8.3 share despite big promotions that included flying 154 listeners to London for a week. The Zoo team, which had zoomed up the ratings ladder from their winter '86 debut of 4.3, may be proving what some broadcast observers have maintained all along: that they are a seltzer -- splash, fizzle and then flat.
Among the biggest spring gainers was a morning team that no longer exists -- WRQX-FM's (107.3) J.J. McKay and Christian Paul, which scored a 4.2 share, up from a 2.8. Paul left the station at the beginning of June, after six months, and McKay was released 2 1/2 weeks ago. Q-107 also showed a strong gain throughout the day, jumping to ninth in the market with a 4.6 from 3.8.
McKay and Paul were tied for eighth place in the morning race with another consistent gainer, WDJY-FM's (100.3) Brute Bailey. In two years as program director, Bailey has lifted the urban hit station from near the ratings basement to eighth overall, with a 5.1 share.
Noncommercial stations dropped across the board in overall daytime ratings. WETA-FM (90.9) finished with a 2.4 share, down from winter's 2.9. Fellow NPR affiliate WAMU-FM (88.5) dropped to 1.4 from 1.8; while WPFW-FM (89.3) and WDCU-FM (90.1) each dropped one-tenth to 0.7 and 0.4, respectively.
Get 'em While They're Hot Talk may be cheap but broadcasting it isn't. Two weeks ago, three major local radio properties traded hands. WCXR-FM (105.9) and sister station WCPT-AM (730) for $22.75 million; WASH-FM (97.1) for $29.25 million; and the 11-station First Media chain, which includes WPGC-AM/FM (1580/95.5), for an estimated $180 million. Those sales were just part of $382,458,918 in radio station transactions across the nation that week. According to Radio & Records, the trade bible, transactions for the year total $1,687,863,553. That total, however, does not include more than $50 million in stock options that Los Angeles-based Westwood One agreed to pay for the NBC Radio Network. Westwood One also owns the Mutual Broadcasting System.
The Reconditioned Beemer WBMW-FM (106.7) has floated into its third musical format since the beginning of the year, this time trying what it calls new age music, with a distinctive California flavor. There's also plenty of jazz, which is what encouraged Steve Allan to leave CBS-owned WLTT-FM (94.7) last week after four years and join what is now being called "The Beemer," in another appeal to Yuppies. Former WCXR-FM (105.9) morning man Kevin Malvey has taken over the morning show and fellow former CXRer Bob Brooks also has joined the station.
The Talent Cup Runneth Over Format changes and management decisions in recent months have resulted in an amazing collection of talented announcers without work. John Dowling, on Washington airwaves for 19 1/2 years, was let go from WPGC several weeks ago and now says he has "a couple of irons in the fire." Former morning man at WHUR-FM (96.3) Jesse Fax continues to look after two months of being able to sleep late. Former Q-107 midday entertainer Sandy Weaver is also looking; in the meantime, she has gone into business as an air talent consultant. And WWRC-AM's (980) plan to drop its 2 1/2-year-old nostalgic music format for a talk format at the end of the month will leave Gene Packard, Bill Hickok and Les Carpenter without microphones. WWRC veteran Ed Walker will slip into the morning drive seat from 5:30 to 9 on an interim basis. Walker is still looking for a local outlet for his Sunday morning nostalgic music show, "Play It Again, Ed," and hopes to syndicate it nationally.
Meanwhile, WWRC's talk format will debut on Monday. So far, only two new hosts have been hired -- shock jock Bob Kwesell of Fayetteville, N.C. (weekdays, noon to 3) and sports physician Dr. Gabe Mirkin (weekdays, 6 to 7 p.m.). The station is still talking with Joel A. Spivak. Diane Robinson, who was executive producer when the station was NBC-owned WRC News/Talk, will assume that position again. Virginia Kramer has left WNTR-AM's (1050) "Power Breakfast" (which has its final cup of coffee Friday) to produce Walker's morning show at WWRC.