When Big John Howell and Dan Proft traded places on Chicago radio stations earlier this year, no one predicted there’d be any seismic changes in the ratings.
But in a surprising footnote to Nielsen Audio figures released this week, Salem Media news/talk WIND AM 560 beat Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890 in morning drive for the first time. It’s the latest indication of how far the 50,000-watt giant WLS has fallen.
After eight years at WIND, Howell shifted to WLS in January, replacing the team of Proft and Bruce Wolf in mornings. Proft, in turn, succeeded Howell alongside co-host Amy Jacobson on WIND. Three months later, WLS still led narrowly in mornings with a 1.1 share over WIND’s 0.9 share.
The latest ratings, which cover the period from April 23 to May 20, tell a different story: From 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, WIND is now tied for 25th place with a 1.3 share, while WLS is tied for 32nd with a 0.9 share.
WIND’s Proft and Jacobson also are ahead in every key demographic, including adults between 25 and 54 and adults between 35 and 64, as well as specifically among men and women in those demos.
As WLS struggles to redefine itself after years as a bastion of conservative talk, many of its disenfranchised listeners appear to be turning to WIND for solace. Hiring Proft, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican political commentator, consultant and onetime gubernatorial candidate, could turn out to be an unexpected masterstroke by Salem Media bosses.
“The early reviews of Chicago’s Morning Answer with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson are very encouraging,” said Jeff Reisman, general manager of WIND. “We are pleased to be Chicago’s only station talking about and providing perspective on the biggest news stories of the day. The recent changes on the AM dial have greatly benefited AM 560 The Answer.”