Chicago radio ratings: WBBM Newsradio leads big surge for news/talk stations

Felicia Middlebrooks

As radio continued to redefine its role in the lives of listeners sheltering in place, WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM widened its first-place lead in Nielsen Audio ratings released Monday.

With a cumulative weekly audience of 938,400, the Entercom all-news combo again finished first overall, and led in mornings with Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy, afternoons with Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding, and evenings with Bob Conway and Andy Dahn.

WBBM Newsradio's success also was reflected in a substantial surge for two news/talk stations — Nexstar Media Group WGN 720-AM and Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. Both increased audience shares by 25 percent from the previous month.

The biggest winner among music stations was Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM, which moved up to second place overall and first in middays with Bob Stroud.

The Nielsen Audio survey covered the four-week period from March 26 to April 22. Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all Illinois residents to stay at home on March 21.

Nielsen Audio issued the following advisory to subscribers: "Audience estimates covering the time of the COVID-19 public health emergency can and should be used to understand the nature of that audience during that period only since it may reflect behavior that is unique to the COVID-19 crisis. Users should be aware that the effect of COVID-19 on media consumption will vary by market, period and measurement type.

"Given the anomalous nature of audience behavior during the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is Nielsen's position that future buying and planning decisions for periods that fall outside the COVID-19 crisis should not be made using COVID-19 impacted audience estimates."

Here are Chicago’s top 30 radio stations from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday, as measured by Nielsen Audio from March 26 to April 22, followed by format and average quarter-hour share of listeners age 6 and older (with previous month’s share in parentheses):

1. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM all news, 8.4 (7.7)
2. WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 6.4 (5.1)
3. WGN 720-AM news talk, 5.6 (4.5)
4. WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 5.4 (4.3)
5. WVAZ 102.7-FM urban adult contemporary, 5.0 (5.3)
6. WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 4.4 (5.2)
7. WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 4.0 (4.3)
8. WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.9 (3.8)
9. WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 3.7 (4.3)
10. WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 3.1 (2.4)
11. WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 3.0 (3.3)
12. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM urban contemporary, 2.8 (2.3); WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 2.8 (3.1)
14. WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 2.6 (3.1)
15. (tie) WLS 890-AM news talk, 2.4 (2.1); WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 2.4 (2.4)
17. WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 2.2 (2.5)
18. (tie) WUSN 99.5-FM country, 2.1 (2.7); WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 2.1 (2.8)
20. (tie) WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip hop, 2.0 (2.4); WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 2.0 (2.4)
22. WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 1.8 (1.8)
23. (tie) WEBG 95.5-FM country, 1.5 (1.2); WFMT 98.7-FM classical 1.5 (1.1); WPWX 92.3-FM urban contemporary, 1.5 (1.4); WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 1.5 (1.3)
27. WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian, 1.3 (1.3)
28. (tie) WMBI 90.1-FM Christian ministry, 1.2 (1.0); WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.2 (1.2)
30. WIIL 95.1-FM album-oriented rock, 0.8 (no previous share)

Here are Chicago radio’s top 10 morning shows from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio:

1. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy
2. WBEZ 91.5-FM “Morning Edition”; “BBC Newshour”
3. WGN 720-AM Bob Sirott
4. WDRV 97.1-FM Brian Sherman and Steve Tingle
5. (tie) WTMX 101.9-FM Eric Ferguson, Melissa McGurren and Brian “Whip” Paruch; WVAZ 102.7-FM Steve Harvey
7. WLS 94.7-FM Dave Fogel and Kim Berk
8. WLIT 93.9-FM Melissa Forman
9. WXRT 93.1-FM Richard Milne
10. WLEY 107.9-FM Alberto "El Terrible" Cortez

Here are Chicago radio’s top 10 midday shows from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio:

1. WDRV 97.1-FM Bob Stroud
2. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Cisco Cotto
3. WGN 720-AM John Williams; Anna Davlantes
4. WTMX 101.9-FM Lisa Allen
5. WLIT 93.9-FM Robin Rock
6. WXRT 93.1-FM Lin Brehmer
7. (tie) WLS 890-AM Chris Plante; Rush Limbaugh; WLS 94.7-FM Greg Brown
9. WBEZ 91.5-FM “1A,” Jenn White; Terry Gross; “Here and Now”
10. WVAZ 102.7-FM Bioncé Foxx

Here are Chicago radio’s top 10 afternoon shows from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio:

1. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding
2. WDRV 97.1-FM Steve Seaver and Janda Lane
3. WBEZ 91.5-FM “All Things Considered”; “Marketplace”
4. WTMX 101.9-FM Kevin “Koz” Koske
5. WVAZ 102.7-FM Joe Soto
6. WGN 720-AM Roe Conn
7. WXRT 93.1-FM Marty Lennartz
8. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM Tone Kapone; WLS 94.7-FM Erin Carman
10. WKSC 103.5-FM Brady Broski

Here are Chicago radio’s top 10 evening shows from 7 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio:

1. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Bob Conway; Andy Dahn
2. WVAZ 102.7-FM Keith Sweat
3. WBEZ 91.5-FM “Marketplace”; “The Daily”; Terry Gross; “BBC Newsday”; “1A”; “BBC World Service”
4. WLIT 93.9-FM Delilah Rene
5. WGCI 107.5-FM Zach Boog
6. WDRV 97.1-FM Phil Manicki
7. WKSC 103.5-FM Jordan Foster
8. WBBM 96.3-FM Julia Lepidi
9. (tie) WGN 720-AM Ji Suk Yi; Nick Digilio; WLS 94.7-FM Brian Peck

(Copyright © 2020 The Nielsen Company.)