A public radio first: WBEZ hits top 10 in morning ratings

Morning ShiftFor the first time ever, Chicago’s listener-supported public radio station has cracked the top 10 among all Chicago radio morning shows.

Nielsen Audio ratings released Tuesday for the period from January 1 to 28 showed NPR’s “Morning Edition” and the locally produced “Morning Shift” anchored by Tony Sarabia on Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5 in a four-way tie for 10th place. The noncommercial station posted a 3.0 percent share of all listeners — up one full share point from December.

Chicago Public Media officials declined to comment, but others noted that the impressive jump at WBEZ coincided with the collapse of Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890, which dropped to a tie for 25th in mornings with a 1.1 share. One year ago WLS was tied for fifth in mornings with a 3.8 share. Big John Howell, formerly of Salem Communications news/talk WIND AM 560, replaced Bruce Wolf as WLS morning host on January 19. Minus Howell in mornings, WIND ranked 30th with a 0.9 share.

Christmas music in December on iHeartMedia hot adult-contemporary WLIT FM 93.9, hosted by Paul “Cubby” Bryant, stole the lead in mornings from CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780 and WCFS FM 105.9. But the Newsradio combo, anchored by Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy, was right back in its customary top spot in January.

The latest ratings do not fully account for the arrival of morning hosts Mason Schreader and Zach “Remy” Hoesly, who started January 20 on iHeartMedia’s new country WEBG FM 95.5. Nor do they reflect the debut January 29 of morning hosts Kyle Santillian and Kendra Gilliams alongside Leon Rogers on iHeartMedia urban contemporary WGCI FM 107.5.

Among listeners between 25 and 54, Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart of Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX FM 101.9 again led the market with an 8.5 share.

Here are Chicago’s top 10 morning shows among listeners age 6 and older from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio in January, followed by average share (with previous month’s share in parentheses):

1. WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9 Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy 10.9 (9.4)

2. WTMX FM 101.9 Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart 6.1 (5.0)

3. WVAZ FM 102.7 Steve Harvey 5.8 (6.7)

4. WGN AM 720 Steve Cochran 5.7 (5.0)

5. WSCR AM 670 Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley 4.0 (3.9)

6. WOJO FM 105.1 Raul Molinar, Sylvia del Valle and Andres Maldonado 3.8 (3.7)

7. WLIT FM 93.9 Paul “Cubby” Bryant 3.7 (10.0)

8. WKSC FM 103.5 Christopher “Fred” Frederick and Angi Taylor 3.4 (2.9)

9. WXRT FM 93.1 Lin Brehmer 3.3 (2.5)

10. (tie) WBBM FM 96.3 J. Niice (Jamar McNeil) and Showbiz Shelly Menaker 3.0 ( 2.9)

10. (tie) WBEZ FM 91.5 NPR Morning Edition; Morning Shift with Tony Sarabia 3.0 (2.0)

10. (tie) WDRV FM 97.1 Steve Downes 3.0 (2.9)

10. (tie) WUSN FM 99.5 Lisa Dent and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens 3.0 (2.0)

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