Radio Waves: February 9, 2024

Holiday Nielsens out KOST on top again

The Holiday 2023 Nielsen ratings were released recently, and while the top station — KOST (103.5 FM) — was no surprise due to its traditional dominance playing holiday music, there were a few surprises to be had.

Compared with last year’s ratings share of 13.1, KOST was down a half point to 12.6. That is still more than double second-place KRTH’s (101.1 FM) 5.8. KIIS-FM (102.7) was a strong third at 4.7, followed by KFI (640 AM) at 4.6. My FM KBIG (104.3 FM) rounded out the top-5 with a 4.5

The surprising part involved other stations that are normally negatively affected by KOST’s Christmas dominance, especially stations in the top of the list that are most vulnerable simply due to their larger audience size and popularity. Yet KRTH was up from the month before, KIIS-FM held steady, and most others were only slightly down. For its part, Go Country KKGO (105.1 FM) was actually up slightly for the month as it, too, played holiday music — the first time I have seen this over the past few years and perhaps partially explaining why KOST wasn’t quite as high as last year.

The ratings list was off a bit, though the ratings themselves are as accurate as the methodology allows (in my opinion: “not very”). Negotiations were underway during the period and an agreement had not yet been made for stations owned by Meruelo Media, placing KDAY (93.5 FM), KLLI (93.9 FM), KLOS (95.5 FM), and KPWR (106.7 FM) “below the line” and unable to be used in any way by the station. 

I have been informed that Nielsen and Meruelo have come to an agreement, so everything should be back to normal by the next ratings release in late February.

KNX (1070 AM, 97.1 FM) was one of the stations with a decline. It was modest for the month — down just 0.2 to 2.5 from the “December” report that covered through December 6th. In case that makes no sense, remember that there are 52 weeks in a year and ratings surveys run every four weeks, so the “Holiday” period is the one that actually covers most of December – in this case 12/7 – 1/3.

The problem for KNX is that the minor drop continued the decline that began in October, when they earned a 3.3 share. And still, the AM-FM simulcast is earning about the same as what they earned as an AM standalone station.

Alt (KYSR, 98.7 FM still beats KROQ (106.7 FM) 2.7 to 1.9, abut the same as it has been for a while. KFI is so dominant in the talk arena, that it is 26 places above the next highest-rated general talk station — KEIB (1150 AM) — and KPCC (89.3 FM) is barely the top-rated public station but still the top, with a 2.0 share compared with KUSC’s (91.5 FM) 1.9

Each rating is an estimate of the percentage of listeners aged 6 and older tuned to a station between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 midnight.

1. KOST (12.6); 2. KRTH (5.8); 3. KIIS-FM (4.7); 4. KFI (4.6); 5. KBIG (4.5) 6. KTWV (4.1); 7. KCBS-FM (3.4); 8. KLVE (3.3); 9. KLAX, KRCD (3.0)

11. KYSR (2.7) 12. KNX AM/FM (2.5); 13. KRRL (2.1); 14. KKGO, KPCC (2.0) 16. KKLQ, KROQ, KUSC (1.9); 19. KBUE, KLYY, KXOL (1.8)

22. KJLH, KSCA (1.6); 24. KCRW (1.5); 25. KFWB, KKJZ (1.1); 27. KFSH (0.9); 28. KLAC (0.8); 29. KCSN (0.6); 30. KDLD, KEIB, KRLA, KYLA (0.4)

34. KKLA, KTNQ, KLAX online stream, KTWV online stream (0.2) 38. KHJ, KROQ-HD2, KKLQ HD2, KCBS-FM online stream, KNX online stream, KXOL ONLINE STREAM, KRTH online stream (0.1)

Listed “below the line” with no rating calculated: KDAY, KLLI, KLOS, KPWR.


“I enjoy your column about music and broadcasting. When you talk about ‘the world of radio playlist keep getting smaller’ it would’ve been nice for you to mention the SoCal Sound, 88.5 FM – they consistently play great music, new artists and less popular older tunes from legends.

“They play new artists or more recent artists and have exposed me to a lot of good newer music. Durand jones, Cage the Elephant , MGMT, etc. all of whom are making new music. Your column is something that could drive people to a channel that’s actually doing good things.” — Chris Stavros, San Pedro

Excellent points, all of them, though my focus was actually on commercial stations and SoCalSound is public. That being said, while I tend to find the station’s format a bit slower than I like, you are absolutely right that they do indeed expose new artists and new music … and they deserve the recognition. Coincidentally, you are not the only one who write to tell me. That says something as well.

“Robert: You stated that KNX-FM ‘is a waste of a signal.’  As an EV owner with only FM radio available, I am very glad to have that FM simulcast signal as I am a regular KNX listener and wouldn’t otherwise be able to tune in.

“I totally agree with your comment about HD radio that putting ads on the screen ‘is not cool.’  KNX is one of the guilty ones.  When I see an ad, just like annoying audio ads, I switch stations.” — John Cooper

More good points, though you should not be forced to use FM when EVs can easily have good AM reception with correct filtering and antenna designs. I actually wonder if EVs operate within the law as far as interfering with radio reception of other cars on the road … if they do, they are illegal according to the FCC. But try getting the FCC to do anything about it …