Fueled by Ferguson: WTMX tops the PPM charts

Thanks to Eric Ferguson and Co., The Mix reaches number one in the last non-Christmas book of 2017

For the first time in recent memory, Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTMX-FM – known as The Mix 101.9 FM – topped the ratings charts, dethroning Urban Adult Contemporary outlet WVAZ-FM (V103).

According to the Nielsen PPM “October” survey – running from September 14th to October 11th, WTMX trended up with a 12 percent increase to first place, benefiting from an unexplained 14 percent drop for V103, month-to-month. The Mix’s numbers are the best in nearly a year.

The surge no doubt is fueled by the newly rejuvenated morning show with Eric Ferguson – now without Kathy Hart, who was released from the station last month. The duo were paired together for 21 years, but reports surfaced regarding tension between the two, leading Hart to take an unexplained absence in April, never to return.

Since her departure, Ferguson’s show hasn’t missed a beat – now with Melissa McGurren and Brian”Whip” Paurch sharing billing as the morning show continues to dominate the ratings, thanks to its strong female listenership.

And WTMX isn’t just number one in 6+. According to an analysis done by consulting group Research Director, Inc. for All Access Music Group, WTMX swept the October book by finishing first in all key demos – particularly in the all-important adult 25-54 measurement. It’s no doubt Ferguson’s morning show is the engine keeping listeners tuned in for the entire day.

Known in the trades as an Hot Adult Contemporary station, or Adult Top 40 (minus the urban and hip-hop acts often found in Contemporary Hit Radio), WTMX’s core artists include Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Charlie Puth, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Adele. Other influential stations reporting to Mediabase’s Hot AC Panel include WPLJ-FM in New York, KBIG-FM in Los Angeles, WDVD-FM in Detroit, and Sirius/XM’s Pulse Channel 15. The PPM October survey in Los Angeles showed KBIG completely dominating its competition.

Meanwhile, the Cubs’ playoff run helped WSCR to fourth place, just behind all-news WBBM-AM, who finished third. Other local stations struggled, notably WKSC-FM, WBBM-FM, WGCI-FM and WKQX-FM, all slipping in key young demos (thanks in part to its audience heading back to school.)

As for V103, it is hard to explain why the station nearly lost a full ratings point month-to-month – which is unusual, even for an Urban AC – the format does have the same kind of month-to-month ratings fluctuations other formats have. V103 ratings have maintained well despite the loss of African-American residents from the Chicago market, as reported here last week.

It is however, hard to pinpoint whether or not the city’s black radio stations are losing share as a result. Two such stations – Crawford’s WPWX-FM and WSRB-FM are no longer listed in the ratings chart provided by Radio Online for unknown reasons, making it hard to see how the stations are performing. One positive note: WGCI remains in the top ten, the stations still does well in the adult 18-34 demo with a second place finish, according to Research Director.

Unfortunately, this survey is the last one without an influence from the “Holly Jolly” format – otherwise known as Christmas music as stations across the country (such as WLIT) switch to the seasonal format for higher ratings and revenue, drawing listeners from other radio stations. The next book to get a good measure on how the medium is doing won’t be until January.

Meet WLIT’s newest DJ. He’s a seasonal worker. (Credit: Chicago Business Journal)