Radio Ratings... What Do They Mean?
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CBC has been slowly climbing year after year on CJOB. Now…they are in a virtual tie for ratings.

This past year, CBC tweaked their line up by moving to one host for their morning show. Winnipeg had been one of the last stations in Canada to have two morning hosts for CBC so Marcy Markusa was to fly solo. Beloved co-host Terry McLeod was moved to weekends and rising star Ismaila Alfa was moved to afternoons replacing Larry Updike.

CJOB was also going through changes. The nationally syndicated Charles Adler show on afternoons ended and Adler resumed his local morning show on CJOB. This entailed Richard Cloutier as news director moving to a noon hour slot in addition to his other duties. A revolving door of hosts in the afternoon from Laurie Langcastor to Karen Black have tried to make the timeslot work. Dahlia Kurtz was called in as a specialist to get the station back on track.

The big surprise for some was that Hal Anderson and his producer Olivia Billson were let go from the early morning show leading to Charles Adler’s program. Anderson, a well liked host, has probably suffered from CJOB’s loss of hockey broadcasting since the Winnipeg Jets return.

The switch to sport for TSN radio and capturing the broadcasting rights for Winnipeg Jets games as peeled away people who turned to CJOB for their hockey fix. How much? You would have to compare to the bottom ratings for oldies CFRW. It is possibly a consistent 2 points that CJOB has lost to sports radio. Heaven forbid if the Jets had gotten into the play-offs as CJOB might have done worse.

A temporary host has replaced Hal Anderson but in the grand scheme of things, CBC out tweaked CJOB. And TSN now battles it out with CBC 2.

In terms of music radio, it is safe to say that country is climbing back up as it seems to do every ten years or so. Classic rock, top 40 and hard and soft rock seem to be bouncing around although Power 97 has seen better days.

All is not lost for CJOB. The civic election may prove to be good for their fall book if they are the go to station for candidates. A few listeners might peel off from music stations to news radio. A major news story can make people switch. A good host can win over audiences.

CBC Radio has been rising steadily across Canada the last decade. In many markets it is in the top 3. It will be interesting to see if they can hold on with significant cuts in programming happening this year.

The next ratings period will definitely be hard fought. Expect to see lots of ads on billboards and TV during the fall. It will almost seem like there is an election going on.

This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations