Chicago radio ratings: The Drive dominates, B96 slips

The Drive wins overall; WLS-FM finishes first in 18-34s

At the start of the year, no one would ever guess Hubbard’s The Drive (WDRV-FM) would top the ratings, let alone dominate them. And as it turns out, the classic rocker is performing a clinic on how to dominate.

In September, The Drive’s ratings topped all Chicago radio stations, speeding up 20 percent from August and has a 25 percent lead over iHeartMedia’s Gold AC 93.9 The Lite (WLIT), who’ll no doubt dominate later this year when Christmas music season rolls around. Both were tied for first last month.

Finishing third overall was Audacy all-news WBBM-AM, fourth was iHeartMedia Adult R&B outlet V103 and fifth was NPR’s news/talk WBEZ-FM.

But The Drive didn’t exactly dominate the key demos – that honor belongs to TelevisaUnivision’s Regional Mexican WOJO-FM, who won in the adult 25-54 demo for the sixth consecutive month. However, The Drive eroded WOJO’s lead, finishing in second place. Skyrocketing from thirteenth to third in the same demo was WBEZ, becoming the top news/talk radio station in the market. Declining significantly were Audacy country station US 99 (WUSN-FM) and WLIT. WOJO also finished first among adults 18-49.

The new wasn’t all that great however, for WOJO in the adults 18-34 demo as they slipped out of the top spot to third as in a bit of a surprise, Cumulus’ Classic hits WLS-FM topped the demo, marking the first time they done so since the late 1980s, when they were known as contemporary hits WYTZ-FM, or Z95. So is Chicago’s young population more into The Eagles than Harry Styles? Keep in mind most listeners in the demo are streaming their music -and not listening to terrestrial radio. To be sure, iHeart’s Top 40 Kiss 103.5 (WKSC) finished second, while Audacy’s B96 was nowhere to be found as their overall rating slid to a 1.9. You wonder how much longer Audacy is going to commit to this format, as B96 turned 40 this year as the “Killer Bee” and “Party Radio” days are long gone. 

Back to the overall numbers, Audacy’s The Score (WSCR-AM) finished ahead of Good Karma’s ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM) but The Score’s lead shrunk as ESPN 1000 improved a little bit.

As for Hubbard’s WSHE-FM and Audacy’s 104.3 Jams (WBMX-FM), both experienced declines as the former is weathering through a format adjustment and the latter now no longer has Ed Lover in morning drive.

Last and very least, Cumulus conservatives talk WLS-AM finished dead last among Chicago full-signal radio stations in 28th place. WLS hopes the addition of former local television personality Jane Clauss (nee’ Monzures) to Steve Cochran’s morning show improve numbers. And if you’re wondering where rival WIND-AM is – whose morning co-host Dan Proft benefitted from tons of publicity over his racist and violent People Who Play By The Rules PAC advertising along with a complicit Chicago media, isn’t listed in any reports because owner Salem Communications doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen – so no ratings are listed. But the guess here is he and Amy Jacobson are dominating Cochran in morning drive.

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