Hispanic Owners Make Further Gains In Latest Survey of Los Angeles Radio
By DARRELL SATZMAN
The most recent Arbitron ratings for Los Angeles have a decidedly Spanish accent.
Of the seven biggest radio companies in the L.A., only three showed gains in overall listenership during the fall period and all of those own stations with Spanish-language formats.
The biggest improvement was by Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., the Dallas-based company that is in the process of merging with Univision Communications Corp. With its five local stations, HBC garnered a combined rating of 9.2 for the fall period, up from a combined 8.2 during the summer. (There are 10,400 listeners in the Los Angeles market; ratings are the percentage of overall listeners tuning in between 6 a.m. and midnight).
Liberman Broadcasting Co., which last month struck a deal to buy a fifth local station from Astor Broadcast Group, saw its combined rating rise to 5.8 from 5.2 during the summer. HBC and Liberman rival Spanish Broadcasting Systems Inc. had a smaller gain, with a combined 5.4 rating from 5.2.
“The English stations did find themselves falling a bit in the overall 12-plus picture,” said ABC’s Erik Braverman, program director for KABC-AM (790) and KSPN-AM. “And the larger companies did dip a bit to the advantage of the Spanish stations.”
After executives of Spanish-language stations had complained when their ratings fell during the summer period, Arbitron said it would tweak its methodology for future ratings, although it did not outline what changes will be made. The strong gains made by Spanish-language stations in the fall might now take some of the pressure off.
Meantime, the two biggest owners of local radio stations saw their listening audience erode, although they continued to dominate the market through sheer numbers of channels.
Clear Channel Communications Corp., with eight local stations, and Infinity Broadcasting Corp., with seven, captured 20.1 percent and 19.5 percent of the Los Angeles radio audience during the fall period. Those numbers represented drops from the summer period of 8 percent and 3 percent for Clear Channel and Infinity respectively.
In addition, Infinity’s top-rated Los Angeles station, KROQ-FM (106.7), saw its ratings sink to a 4.4 in the fall from a 4.9 during the summer, while Clear Channel’s top station, KIIS-FM (102.7), dipped to a 4.1 from a 4.8.
Despite having the top-rated station in the market, Emmis Communications Corp.’s overall share of the Los Angeles audience dipped to a 7.3 in the fall from 7.5 during the summer. ABC’s share fell to a 5.0 share from 5.2.
The good news for Emmis was that its powerhouse, KPWR-FM (105.9), extended its lead over all of its rivals. KPWR, with its hip-hop format, earned a 5.4 rating, the highest rating of any local station in more than a year. Its closest competitor was KROQ, which finished a full ratings point behind.
“If you look at the trend line the station has been on the past few years, it’s been going quite nicely northward,” said Jimmy Steal, the station’s programming director. “This is the most competitive market in the country and every one-tenth of a point a radio station garners is due to blood, sweat and tears.”
Another station that had a rough fourth quarter of 2002 was Clear Channel’s KFI-AM (640). The talk station dropped all the way down to a 3.9 rating, vs. a 4.5 in the previous period. ABC rock and roll station KLOS-FM (95.5) also faired poorly, dropping to a 2.0 rating, vs. a 2.7 during the summer.
Conversely, Clear Channel’s KOST-FM (103.5) rebounded nicely from a miserable summer to post a 3.9 rating, up from 3.4. The biggest overall gain was made by HBC’s KSCA-FM (101.9), the highest rated Spanish station in the Los Angeles market. KSCA garnered a 3.9 rating, compared to 3.2 in the previous period.
The impact of several recent changes in the Los Angeles radio landscape won’t be measured until the next set of Arbitron ratings comes out in April. Those include Clear Channel’s format change on KLAC-AM (570), where talk was abandoned in favor of standards, and Liberman’s acquisition of KMXN-FM (94.3), which will share a Spanish-language triple simulcast with two other stations owned by the company.
In addition, ABC swapped frequencies earlier this month with its KDIS-AM and KSPN-AM stations. KDIS, a children’s station, is now being aired on 1110, while KSPN was switched to 710.
Radio Lineup – L.A. corporate market shares:
Fall 2002/Summer 2002
Clear Channel Communications Inc. 20.1/21.8
Infinity Broadcasting Corp. 19.5/20.1
Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. 9.2/8.2
Emmis Communications Corp. 7.3/7.5
Liberman Broadcasting Co. 5.8/5.2
Spanish Broadcasting Systems Inc. 5.4/5.2
Radio One 3.6/3.3