Naked City

Bob and El Chulo lead radio spring ratings pack

In the intense competition among local radio morning shows, the new ratings champion is – drum roll, please – none of the above. KBPA-FM (103.5), aka Bob-FM, which doesn't have a morning show, was No. 1 in the mornings in the key 25-54 demographic, according to the recently released Arbitron ratings report for the spring quarter, which held all sorts of surprises for local stations.

In addition to the continued ratings power of Bob, the spring book marked the dramatic return of the Beat, an R&B format, to Infinity Broadcasting-owned KXBT-FM (104.3). In its first book after switching back to the Beat – following a six-month diversion as the Coyote, an all-comedy format – the Beat was already neck and neck with rival KDHT-FM (Hot 93.3). Among listeners 18-34, from 6am to midnight on weekdays, the two were in a virtual dead heat, with Hot posting a 5.9 rating share compared to 5.7 for the Beat, which was aided by the continued strength of Howard Stern's morning show.

The competition was great news for Emmis Communications' 101X (KROX-FM, 101.5), the alternative rock station, which vaulted over the two hip-hop stations into the No. 1 spot in overall audience among listeners 18-34. In the first full ratings book for KROX since the return of program director Lynn Lawless, the station jumped to a 7.7 ratings share in the key demographic, up from a 6.0 a year earlier.

The spring book also marked the return of El Chulo, aka Joaquín Garza, who spearheaded Border Media Partners' launch of KHHL-FM (98.9) as "La Ley," an updating of the traditional Spanish-language regional music format. The morning show was No. 1 among 18-34 listeners, drawing a larger audience there than such established players as Stern and KLBJ-FM's Dudley and Bob.

The news wasn't as good for Border Media's Air America. After debuting in Austin in March to much hoopla, the progressive talk format posted an unspectacular 1.8 rating share among listeners 25-54 on weekdays from 6am to midnight, although Al Franken's show posted a more respectable 3.5 share.

Meanwhile Bob, which plays a wide variety of old songs, continues to post big numbers. The format is an industry-wide phenomenon, with "Jacks" and "Bobs" popping up in many cities, but Austin's version may be the most successful in the country. The local Bob has started adding live voices, which goes against the no-jocks Jack/Bob formula. Despite the popularity of its automated morning programming, Scott Gillmore, Emmis Austin's market manager, says he plans to add a live morning show. "I still think in the long term the station will do better with a morning show that is in touch with the local community," he said. "But I would say we're not in a hurry."

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