I guess this is what happens when you use winning call letters without Charlie Sheen? The first full Arbitron PPM survey for September is out for Merlin Media all-news station WWWN shows the station is clearly not “winning”. In fact – it’s losing. Big.

According to the PPM report, WWWN finished an astonishing low 48th place with a measly 0.2 share of the audience – down 60 percent from the last survey period, which included a stunting phase with a Hot AC format and having Robert Murphy in morning drive on an interim basis. Among adults 25-54, WWWN finished 41st.

In New York City, Merlin’s WEMP-FM – a replacement for alt-rock WRXQ-FM, finished 33rd with a meager 0.5.

In all fairness, one survey (or survey) does not a hit – or miss – make. But WWWN’s performance – which ranked behind WVON, WSRB, WCPT, and even some suburban sticks – was dead on arrival, which is worthy to be shoved into the loser’s circle. Given the ad demand of news/talk stations these days, however – especially with a Presidential campaign and several hot political races coming up – look for Merlin to hang in there. Believe it or not, many media buyers would want an alternative to all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM – but the reach has to be there and it won’t be unless WWWN’s ratings improve.

Another problem for WWWN and WEMP is the promotion and marketing of the stations, or the lack thereof. How can you launch a new station in a major radio market and NOT promote it? Stations who flip formats should have a marketing plan to get the word out. Merlin bungled that from the start – they didn’t even have one.  Then again, we are dealing with the infertile mind of Randy Michaels.

In other PPM news, both WGN-AM and WVAZ (V103) each tied for first in the overall numbers race with WBBM-AM not those far behind in third place (WBBM’s simulcast on WCFS-FM finished 2th.) The Drive (WDRV) topped the 25-54 adult demo portion of the survey, while WOJO finished first in adults 1-34. Classic Rock WLUP-FM (The Loop) slid into 16th place overall, but finished fifth in the key adult demo – enough to keep that station out of the loser’s circle. WLUP is now-owned by – you guessed it, Merlin Media.

In Los Angeles, CHR/Pop outlet KIIS-FM finished first overall, while AC outlet WLTW did likewise in New York.