Chicago radio ratings: ‘Me-TV FM’ hits it bigger than ever


Days after parent company iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy protection, urban adult-contemporary powerhouse WVAZ FM 102.7 remained firmly entrenched as the top-rated radio station in the Chicago area.

But far bigger news in the Nielsen Audio survey released Monday was the growth of Weigel Broadcasting’s WRME FM 87.7, the soft-rock oldies station known as Me-TV FM. Jumping from 21st place to sixth in one month, it delivered its highest total audience share ever. In middays the station ranked No. 2 overall — behind only V103.

The achievement was even more amazing considering that Me-TV FM operates with a programming staff of two — program director Rick O’Dell and production director Bill Cochran — and broadcasts on a low-power analog television frequency that functions as a radio station. Its leased signal at the farthest end of the dial isn’t even accessible by some automobile radios.

Neal Sabin

Before Weigel Broadcasting launched the radio spinoff its Me-TV digital classic television network in February 2015, the station had been a bust for other companies. Earlier, Tribune Broadcasting bowed out in 38th place with a 0.5 share for its ill-fated sports/talk format known as The Game 87.7 FM.

“Our success is all the more remarkable because of our challenged dial position and somewhat weaker signal than many of the boomer stations in the market,” said Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel and the creator of Me-TV and other networks for the company. “The uniqueness of the Me-TV FM music format and its presentation seem to have overcome these obstacles in a manner no other broadcaster has been able to accomplish in this or any other market utilizing the 87.7 frequency.”

Of the station’s format, Sabin said: “We continue to break many of the old ‘radio rules’ by playing thousands of different songs in a strategically balanced manner that span many decades, genres and tempos.”

Also making a notable leap in February was Hubbard Radio adult contemporary WSHE FM 100.3, which jumped from a tie for 19th to a tie for eighth. The syndicated morning team of Brooke Fox and Jubal Flagg catapulted to the top 10. “We believe the station has been consistently well programmed, which pays off over time, especially in a market with so many recent changes,” said Jeff England, vice president and market manager for Hubbard Radio Chicago.

In its final month as a classic rock station, Cumulus Media’s former WLUP FM 97.9 closed out in a tie for 11th place overall. Among men, The Loop ranked third — behind only V103 and Entercom Newsradio WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9. The Loop ended its 41-year run March 9 before it switched to contemporary Christian music under new ownership.

Here are Chicago’s top 30 radio stations from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday, as measured by Nielsen Audio in February, followed by format and average share of listeners age 6 and older (with January share in parentheses):

1) WVAZ FM 102.7 urban adult contemporary, 6.6 (6.8)
2) WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9 all news, 5.3 (4.7)
3) WTMX FM 101.9 hot adult contemporary, 4.9 (5.4)
4) WBMX FM 104.3 classic hip hop, 4.0 (4.8)
5) WOJO FM 105.1 Mexican regional, 3.7 (3.5)
6) WRME FM 87.7 soft rock oldies, 3.6 (2.4)
7) WLS FM 94.7 classic hits, 3.4 (3.1)
8) (tie) WDRV FM 97.1 classic rock, 3.3 (3.3); WLIT FM 93.9 adult contemporary, 3.3 (3.4); WSHE FM 100.3 adult contemporary, 3.3 (2.6)
11) (tie) WGCI FM 107.5 urban contemporary, 3.2 (2.7); WLUP FM 97.9 classic rock, 3.2 (2.9)
13) (tie) WGN AM 720 news talk, 3.1 (3.3); WXRT FM 93.1 adult album alternative, 3.1 (3.2)
15) (tie) WKSC FM 103.5 Top 40, 3.0 (3.4); WUSN FM 99.5 country, 3.0 (3.4)
17) (tie) WBBM FM 96.3 Top 40, 2.8 (3.0); WKQX FM 101.1 alternative rock, 2.8 (3.0)
19) WPPN FM 106.7 Spanish adult contemporary, 2.7 (2.8)
20) WLEY FM 107.9 Mexican regional, 2.6 (2.6)
21) WSCR AM 670 sports talk, 2.5 (2.7)
22) (tie) WBEZ FM 91.5 public radio news talk, 2.2 (2.2); WPWX FM 92.3 urban contemporary, 2.2 (2.1)
24) WLS AM 890 news talk, 2.0 (1.7)
25) WEBG FM 95.5 country, 1.7 (2.0)
26) WMVP AM 1000 sports talk, 1.5 (1.6)
27) WFMT FM 98.7 classical, 1.4 (1.5)
28) WIND AM 560 news talk, 1.3 (1.4)
29) (tie) WJKL FM 94.3 contemporary Christian, 1.1 (1.1); WVIV FM 93.5 Spanish contemporary, 1.1 (1.0)

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

1. WTMX FM 101.9 Eric Ferguson 7.7 (7.5)
2. WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9 Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy 7.2 (7.0)
3. WVAZ FM 102.7 Steve Harvey 5.6 (5.9)
4. WOJO FM 105.1 Raúl Molinar, Carla Medrano and Andrés Maldonado 4.4 (4.1)
5. WDRV FM 97.1 Brian Sherman and Steve Tingle 4.0 (3.5)
6. WSCR AM 670 Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley 3.9 (4.0)
7. WSHE FM 100.3 Brooke Fox and Jubal Flagg 3.6 (2.5)
8. WLEY FM 107.9 Alberto Terry “El Terrible” Cortez 3.5 (3.4)
9. WGN AM 720 Steve Cochran 3.4 (3.9)
10. WXRT FM 93.1 Lin Brehmer 3.2 (2.9)