Chicago radio ratings: WBBM, WBEZ come roaring back with news

Mary Dixon

Coming off two months dominated by "The Holiday Lite" Christmas music on iHeartMedia adult contemporary WLIT 93.9-FM, radio listenership surged for Chicago’s leading news stations in the latest Nielsen Audio survey.

WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, the Entercom all-news combo, returned to the top spot overall for the first time since August, according to figures released Tuesday. WBBM Newsradio also led in middays with Cisco Cotto and afternoons with Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding.

While iHeartMedia R&B WVAZ 102.7-FM held steady in second place, Chicago Public Media news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM jumped to third with an all-time high audience share. WBEZ also finished first in mornings with NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “BBC Newshour.” Mary Dixon hosts local news reports during "Morning Edition."

WBEZ also won the highly coveted 25-to-54 demographic overall and topped the key adult demo in mornings and afternoons.

The survey period ran from January 7 to February 3, which followed the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol January 6 and included the presidential inauguration January 20. (The second impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began February 9.)

Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM remained in seventh place, but increased its share for the second straight month. Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM fell to a tie for 19th, but boosted its share marginally. It's too early to assess how the death of Rush Limbaugh February 17 will impact the station's midday ratings.

Here are Chicago’s top 32 radio stations from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday, as measured by Nielsen Audio from January 7 to February 3, 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, 7.3 (6.8)
2. WVAZ 102.7-FM R&B, 6.8 (8.0)
3. WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 6.7 (4.3)
4. WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 5.1 (14.3)
5. (tie) WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 4.4 (3.8); WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 4.4 (3.9)
7. WGN 720-AM news talk, 4.1 (3.7)
8. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 3.5 (3.3)
9. WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.4 (2.6)
10. (tie) WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 2.9 (2.9); WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 2.9 (2.4)
12. WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 2.7 (2.4)
13. WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 2.6 (2.5)
14. WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 2.3 (2.0)
15. (tie) WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip-hop, 2.1 (2.2); WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 2.1 (2.0)
17. (tie) WUSN 99.5-FM country, 2.0 (2.1); WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 2.0 (1.7)
19. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM hip-hop, 1.9 (1.6); WLS 890-AM news talk, 1.9 (1.7)
21. (tie) WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 1.8 (1.6); WCHI 95.5-FM rock, 1.8 (1.6)
23. WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 1.7 (1.6)
24. WFMT 98.7-FM classical, 1.5 (1.6)
25. WPWX 92.3-FM hip-hop, 1.2 (no previous share)
26. (tie) WCPT 820-AM progressive talk, 1.1 (0.7); WMBI 90.1-FM Christian ministry, 1.1 (no previous share)
28. WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 1.0 (1.2)
29. (tie) WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian music, 0.8 (0.6); WSRB 106.3-FM R&B, 0.8 (no previous share)
31. (tie) WCCQ 98.3-FM country, 0.7 (0.6); WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 0.7 (0.6)

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

1. WBEZ 91.5-FM “Morning Edition”; “BBC Newshour”
2. WVAZ 102.7-FM Steve Harvey
3. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Pat Cassidy
4. WTMX 101.9-FM Eric Ferguson, Brian “Whip” Paruch and Violeta Podrumedic
5. WGN 720-AM Bob Sirott
6. WLIT 93.9-FM Melissa Forman
7. WDRV 97.1-FM Brian Sherman and Steve Tingle
8. WOJO 105.1-FM Raúl Molinar, Carla Medrano and Andrés Maldonado
9. (tie) WKSC 103.5-FM Christopher “Fred” Frederick and Kristie Graybill; WRME 87.7-FM

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. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Cisco Cotto
2. WBEZ 91.5-FM “1A”; “Reset”; “Fresh Air”
3. (tie) WDRV 97.1-FM Bob Stroud; WVAZ 102.7-FM Bioncé Foxx
5. WLIT 93.9-FM Robin Rock
6. WTMX 101.9-FM Nikki Chuminatto
7. WGN 720-AM John Williams, Anna Davlantes
8. WRME 87.7-FM
9. WOJO 105.1-FM Rafael “El Primo Rafa” Bautista
10. (tie) WXRT 93.1-FM Lin Brehmer; 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. WBEZ 91.5-FM “All Things Considered”; “Marketplace”
3. WVAZ 102.7-FM Joe Soto
4. (tie) WLIT 93.9-FM Mick Lee; WTMX 101.9-FM Chris Petlak and Lisa Allen
6. (tie) WDRV 97.1-FM Steve Seaver and Janda Lane; WOJO 105.1-FM Sylvia del Valle
9. WLS 94.7-FM Erin Carman
10. (tie) WXRT 93.1-FM Marty Lennartz; 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. WVAZ 102.7-FM Keith Sweat
2. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Bob Conway; Andy Dahn
3. WBEZ 91.5-FM “Marketplace”; “The Daily”; “Fresh Air”; “1A”; “BBC World Service”
4. WLIT 93.9-FM Delilah Rene
5. WGN 720-AM John Records Landecker; Dave Plier; Chicago Blackhawks hockey
6. WXRT 93.1-FM Ryan Arnold
7. WLS 94.7-FM Kid Kelly
8. WLS 890-AM Mark Levin
9. (tie) WBMX 104.3-FM; WGCI 107.5-FM Zach Boog

(Copyright © 2021 The Nielsen Company.)