Chicago radio ratings: Middlebrooks exits with WBBM Newsradio on top

Felicia Middlebrooks (Photo: WBBM Newsradio)

Audience shares declined from their sky-high levels in April for Chicago’s news and news/talk radio stations, but WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM continued to lead the market in May for the fourth consecutive month.

Nielsen Audio figures released Monday showed the Entercom all-news combo No. 1 overall as well as in mornings, afternoons and evenings.

Felicia Middlebrooks, who signed off May 29 after more than 35 years as morning co-anchor at WBBM Newsradio, went out on top. Her replacement alongside co-anchor Pat Cassidy has not yet been named.

Holding steady in second place was Chicago's most popular music station —Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM — with Bob Stroud still reigning supreme as king of middays.

Bob Sirott

Bob Sirott, who joined Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM in January, moved up to second place in mornings — the station's highest drive-time ranking in years.

Nielsen analysts said the latest survey reflects something of a return to normal for radio listenership, pointing to a 90 percent recovery of cumulative weekly audiences since March.

Chicago showed a 58 percent level of listening away from home — up substantially from April and the highest percentage of out-of-home listening for any major market measured by Nielsen.

Even so, Nielsen again warned subscribers not to read too much into the numbers, considering the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

"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," the company wrote in a notice to clients.

"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 April 23 to May 20, 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, 7.0 (8.4)
2. WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 6.4 (6.4)
3. (tie) WGN 720-AM news talk, 5.2 (5.6); WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 5.2 (3.7); WVAZ 102.7-FM urban adult contemporary, 5.2 (5.0)
6. WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 4.9 (4.4)
7. WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 4,7 (5.4)
8. WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 4.6 (4.0)
9. WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.9 (3.9)
10. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 3.2 (2.8)
11. WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 2.8 (3.1)
12. WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 2.7 (3.0)
13. WGCI 107.5-FM urban contemporary, 2.6 (2.8)
14. (tie) WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 2.5 (2.0); WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 2.5 (2.4)
16. WUSN 99.5-FM country, 2.4 (2.1)
17. WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 2.3 (2.6)
18. WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip hop, 2.2 (2.0)
19. (tie) WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 2.1 (2.1); WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 2.1 (2.2); WLS 890-AM news talk, 2.1 (2.4)
22. WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 1.8 (1.8)
23. WPWX 92.3-FM urban contemporary, 1.6 (1.5)
24. WEBG 95.5-FM country, 1.5 (1.2)
26. (tie) WFMT 98.7-FM classical 1.2 (1.5); WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.2 (1.2)
28. WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 1.0 (1.5)
29. WSRB 106.3-FM urban adult contemporary, 0.6 (0.5)
30. WDCB 90.9-FM jazz, blues 0.5 (0.5)

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. WGN 720-AM Bob Sirott
3. WBEZ 91.5-FM “Morning Edition”; “BBC Newshour”
4. WDRV 97.1-FM Brian Sherman and Steve Tingle
5. WTMX 101.9-FM Eric Ferguson, Melissa McGurren and Brian “Whip” Paruch
6. 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. WOJO 105.1-FM Raúl Molinar, Carla Medrano and Andrés Maldonado

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. WLS 94.7-FM Greg Brown
7. (tie) WXRT 93.1-FM Lin Brehmer; WVAZ 102.7-FM Bioncé Foxx
9. WBEZ 91.5-FM “1A,” Jenn White; Terry Gross; “Here and Now”
10. WLS 890-AM Chris Plante; Rush Limbaugh

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. WTMX 101.9-FM Kevin “Koz” Koske
4. (tie) WBEZ 91.5-FM “All Things Considered”; “Marketplace”; WLIT 93.9-FM Mick Lee; WLS 94.7-FM Erin Carman; WVAZ 102.7-FM Joe Soto
8. WGN 720-AM Roe Conn
9. WXRT 93.1-FM Marty Lennartz
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. WLIT 93.9-FM Delilah Rene
3. WVAZ 102.7-FM Keith Sweat
4. WBEZ 91.5-FM “Marketplace”; “The Daily”; Terry Gross; “BBC Newsday”; “1A”; “BBC World Service”
5. WDRV 97.1-FM Phil Manicki
6. WGCI 107.5-FM Zach Boog
7. WGN 720-AM Ji Suk Yi; Nick Digilio
8. WLEY 107.9-FM Marco "El Compa Marco" Vargas
9. (tie) WXRT 93.1-FM Ryan Arnold; WLS 94.7-FM Brian Peck; WPWX 92.3-FM Rodney “HotRod” Washington; Pharris "DJ Pharris" Thomas

(Copyright © 2020 The Nielsen Company.)

Monday's comment of the day: Bernie Cicirello: We bring our own feelings and prejudices to a statement like [Nexstar Media Group CEO Perry] Sook's. My interpretation is that he wants to get away from the "If it bleeds, it leads" mentality. Each of these stories involve human beings, and I take his statement as a call to show the human element in violent stories beyond a reporter having to interview relatives and victims immediately after a tragic event. It's a challenge to reporters bring out the underlying causes of violence beyond the phrase "racial inequality." It's also a challenge to us to demand an exploration into the root causes of violence, and to be better informed so that we elect officials who will address them. This isn't "happy talk" or a partisan issue. It's an attempt to reflect back to us who we are.