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With help from Vikings, KFAN tops radio ratings

The success and hype around the team this year has produced a steady climb in audience numbers for the sports-talk station.

The success and hype around the Minnesota Vikings this year has produced a steady climb in audience numbers for KFAN.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s a single big performer in the latest Twin Cities radio ratings, it’s … the Vikings.

The success and hype around the team this year has produced a steady climb in audience numbers for the all-sports KFAN-FM 100.3 (officially KFXN-FM) over the last couple months, resulting in a return to the No. 1 slot.

So okay, let’s do the usual, somewhat windy disclaimer here: The numbers below represent a survey of all listeners 12 years of age and older, i.e. “12-plus,” which means everyone from pre-bopper Kyra with a mad crush on (fill in teen idol du jour) to grizzled, can’t-ever-find-his-keys grandpa Ed.

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But commercial radio is a targeted demographic business. KQRS morning man Tom Barnard makes the money he does because his show is aimed at entertaining 25-54 year olds, and 25-54-year-old men in particular. KQ sells ads to companies who want in turn to sell stuff to that slice of the population. Likewise, MyTalk 107 lives to chat another day by attracting women.

Which is to say that these “12-plus” numbers, while they give a broad view of the popularity of local stations, are not where the game is played inside the business. To all that, I’ll add that even in a “metered world,” where individual listeners tote around devices that pick up signals from stations they’re being exposed to — in their cars, at work, in bars, wherever — it’s still a funky mess of a system. This most recent report, for example, notes that out of a potential audience of 2,910,700 people in the Twin Cities market (the 16th largest in the US) the “ethnic composition” of that audience is “0.08% black” and a whopping “0.00 % Hispanic.” With numbers like that, Donald Trump could have a real shot at winning Minneapolis-St. Paul. But enough. Here’s the current rankings from Nielsen Audio:

Minnesota radio ratings, August–October 2016
2KS95Hot AC*
4KQRSClassic Rock
5KOOL108Classic Hits7.26.86.5
6Jack FMAdult Hits5.55.45.7
7Cities97Hot AC5.45.35.5
16The CurrentAdult Altern.2.421.9
19105 The VibeClassic Hip Hop1.21.31.2
21GO96Modern Rock1.31.20.8

There are a couple dozen or so more, but the total audience size for each gets pretty negligible.

I should add that these “12+” numbers are generally available to the public, while the numbers stations live by, “Men 25-54,” for example, are proprietary to Nielsen’s paying customers — the stations. Getting stations to spit out an unvarnished set of those numbers is the stuff of a comedy sketch. You need a CPA to recalibrate the statistics after the stations’ spin to ascertain what’s been deleted or reimagined.

But that’s my problem, not yours.