Inside Chicago radio’s cash register

Cash registerIn another year of declining revenue for Chicago radio, CBS Radio’s all-news simulcast of WBBM AM 780 and WCFS FM 105.9 retained its crown as Chicago’s top-billing station.

Though down more than 8 percent from last year, the Newsradio combo produced $41.9 million in advertising income — leading the way for CBS Radio, which had four of the top seven revenue-generating stations in the market.

Overall Chicago radio revenue dropped about 2.5 percent from $430,911,000 in 2012 to $419,715,000 in 2013, according to figures compiled by the accounting firm of Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co. (based on revenue reports submitted by station groups). The only year-to-year growth was in digital advertising — up 10 percent to $28,175,000 in 2013.

Rod Zimmerman

Rod Zimmerman

“Radio continues to grow and radio continues to be an effective, results-driven marketing tool for many companies,” Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and market manager of CBS Radio Chicago, told me in an email Thursday. “At CBS Radio we pride ourselves in getting a great return on investment for our advertisers with our multi-dimensional platforms.  When you do that, the revenue follows.”

Among the market’s biggest winners was WTMX FM 101.9, which substantially narrowed the gap for second place behind WBBM/WCFS. The Hubbard Radio modern adult-contemporary station boosted its revenue 10 percent to $37.4 million.

Jerry Schnacke

Jerry Schnacke

“We work really hard to deliver brands that resonate with listeners and ultimately deliver great results for our advertisers,” said Jerry Schnacke, vice president and market manager of Hubbard Radio Chicago. “The increased advertising investment with Hubbard Chicago is gratifying.”

Again finishing third overall, Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720 declined 3 percent to $29.2 million. The station spent most of the year rebuilding its programming and image under new president and general manager Jimmy deCastro.

Among the year’s biggest losers were the two Cumulus Media stations, with news/talk WLS AM 890 dropping 12 percent to $13.0 million and classic hits WLS FM 94.7 dropping 25 percent to $7.9 million. The company just doubled down on its investment in Chicago with the takeover of classic rock WLUP FM 97.9 and modern rock WIQI FM 101.1.

Figures for regional Mexican WLEY FM 107.9 are estimates, according to Miller Kaplan, since owner Spanish Broadcasting System did not submit reports. Midway Broadcasting urban news/talk WVON AM 1690 also did not participate, according to Miller Kaplan.

Here is a ranking of Chicago radio stations based on total revenue for 2013 (with 2012 revenue figures in parentheses):

WBBM/WCFS CBS $41,969,000 ($45,725,000)

WTMX Hubbard $37,459,000 ($34,053,000)

WGN Tribune $29,212,000 ($30,176,000)

WBBM-FM CBS $25,269,000 ($25,830,000)

WSCR CBS $24,823,000 ($22,900,000)

WKSC Clear Channel $23,275,000 ($21,114,000)

WUSN CBS $23,188,000 ($23,078,000)

WVAZ Clear Channel $22,030,000 ($20,827,000)

WOJO Univision $21,220,000 ($21,050,000)

WGCI Clear Channel $18,965,000 ($18,144,000)

WDRV Hubbard $17,541,000 ($21,011,000)

WXRT CBS $16,566,000 ($18,406,000)

WMVP Disney $13,435,000 ($14,917,000)

WLS-AM Cumulus $13,095,000 ($14,963,000)

WLIT Clear Channel $12,923,000 ($17,377,000)

WILV Hubbard $10,455,000 ($10,156,000)

WNUA-FM Clear Channel $9,162,000 ($6,948,000)

WLUP Merlin $8,950,000 ($10,591,000)

WLEY SBS $8,306,000 ($10,323,000)

WJMK CBS $8,040,000 ($7,753,000)

WLS-FM Cumulus $7,900,000 ($10,571,000)

WPPN Univision $6,956,000 ($6,232,000)

WKQX Merlin $5,527,000 ($2,283,000)

WIND Salem $3,629,000 ($4,237,000)

WVIV/WVIX Univision $3,145,000 ($3,564,000)

WGRB Clear Channel $2,690,000 ($3,227,000)

WIQI Merlin $2,455,000 ($1,013,000)

WRTO Univision $929,000 ($1,646,000)

WNUA-HD2 Clear Channel $601,000 (no figure available)