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July radio ratings: KQ still sliding, WCCO pops up

Somewhat belatedly, here are the July 2010 Arbitrons, for all you charts-'n'-graphs geeks.

What will you discover in the chart below? Country station K102 won the monthlies for the second month in a row, WCCO-AM popped up after a rough spring, and right-wing yakker The Patriot had its best month since personal people meters replaced the old diary system.

Remember, these numbers represent the broadest audience measure, persons 6 or older, 6 a.m. to midnight. Stations make money off smaller demographic slices. Also, one-month variations aren't that big a deal; look for trends.

(Oh, and I have no idea why there are three stations in red, but once I discovered it, I wasn't remaking the graphic.)

Here's a graph looking at the race among the perennial top four, all music stations. KQ's slide continues for the fourth month in a row; the rock station is down almost two full share points in a year. KS95 isn't doing leagues better, but KDWB is up almost as much as the other two are down.

Here are the biggest talk stations. MPR News (a.k.a. KNOW) has shown a steady erosion this year, but it's the station that depends on ratings the least. We'll see what the fall campaign holds for the civic-minded network.

Other thoughts:

The competition between sports stations 1500 ESPN and KFAN has settled into statsis; though KFAN looks down, these numbers will flip once the Vikes take charge of the sports calendar. (You can see a fuller discussion of the battle here.)

The Patriot and its left-wing counterpart, AM950, were within shouting distance of each other until May, when the Patriot surged ahead. The July gap is the biggest yet. Does it indicate a political "enthusiasm gap?" Could be that the Patriot is drawing a bit away from bigger conservative station KTLK. Overall, the right-ward share of the talk audience is about where it was a year ago.

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Comments (2)

Progressive talker AM950's slight bump up from June to July may indicate that it finally has a dinner time line up of appealing broadcast pros in Nancy Nelson (5pm to 6pm) and Matt McNeil (6pm to 7pm). Minnesota Broadcast Hall of Famer Nelson has been around since 1960's. Twin Citians think of her as a weekend weather girl and infomercial queen, but the unsinkable Nancy has anchored news at KTTV and talk radio at WABC in Los Angeles and has the licks of a great interviewer and a savvy perspective on Minnesota politics. From this veteran broadcaster's point of view, Nelson and McNeil are pumping oxygen into the culture of local, progressive banter, just as Detroit Lakes' Ed Schultz is now doing nationally from New York (syndicated radio and MSNBC) and occasionally from AM950 on his way to fish and hunt in God's Country.

The real story here is the pitiful performance of the Current-- just under KFAN and slipping. The station has abandoned its stated founding mission, and is openly-- and quite mysteriously, from a local perspective-- trying to compete with the likes of KQRS. Apparently the plan is to position the station as a marketable "service" nation-wide. That's not what we paid for, it's a disaster, and a ripoff. The reason is this: every time "the Current" plays some 35 year old pop hit,or some 15 year -old AOR garbage, that air-time is lost, and some other really great new material is going un-heard. A LOT of well- meaning people gave a LOT of money to MPR on the promise of this station. It is not delivering.