The latest Numeris ratings of Winnipeg radio stations has been released. It shows CBC Radio in the number 1 spot with 680 CJOB right behind. Even with changes at both radios stations with the pandemic going on, talk radio continues to hold a solid position over music stations.
Here are the 2021 Numeris numbers for Winnipeg, with spring 2020 ratings in brackets:
- CBC Radio — 15.7 (16.7)
- 680 CJOB — 13.8 (12)
- QX 104 — 8.7 (9.1)
- Bounce 99.9 — 6.4 (6.6, last rated as 99.9 BOB FM)
- Virgin 103 — 5.4 (4.9)
- 92 CITI-FM — 4.9 (4.8)
- Peggy 99.1 — 4.5 (3.9)
- Energy 106.1 — 4.1 (4.4)
- 94.3 Now! — 4.1 (3.8, last rated as 94-3 The Drive)
- Power 97 — 4.1 (4.2)
- CBC Music FM (Radio 2) — 4.0 (3.8)
- Hot 100.5 FM — 2.8 (2.5)
- Kiss 102.3 FM — 2.7 (3.7)
- Funny 1290 — 0.8 (1.9, last rated as TSN 1290)
It’s difficult to compare ratings due to the pandemic which lead to format changes, retirements, mass firings and staff changes. For radio programmers, this is a new baseline albeit with one big asterisk: The pandemic continues. And if a radio station has depended on work commutes, it might not be happening at full force for a while.
It’s the new normal and radio, like all other industries, has to figure it out. It’s sad to see TSN 1290 having to gut itself. Giving up the Jets radio broadcasts and the heavy local personalities in sports left a gaping hole. The new comedy channel has ratings lower than non commercial radio. Plus, it is has very little local content.
Some big corporations have radio stations in Winnipeg. It’s surprising how some of those stations produce so little content in Manitoba. It might be cheaper, but those stations tend to huddle near the bottom of the dial. It’s a wonder the CRTC considers them local at all. A few do try to be consistent with hosts. More on that later.
Not all stations are listed in the ratings. The two university radio stations are not listed nor the three French broadcasters. The multilingual station is not listed and classic jazz and nostalgia radio aren’t either. How much do they account for? Probably not a huge amount but I listen to Goldeyes games on nostalgia and there are many others too. The Christian radio station is not listed either. And let’s not forget the native owned station as well. In all, 25 stations exist in the Winnipeg market with some bleed over from rural stations to boot.
Recently, while talking to a convention runner, they said they had no idea who to approach in Winnipeg radio market for promotional tie-ins. They said in other markets there was real dominance by one or two big media companies… but in Winnipeg there was Corus, Bell, Rogers, Evanov and now Pattison to consider. In other cities, the choice was obvious for a corporate tie-in. In other words, Winnipeg is a competitive market, which is a good thing. However, the bad thing is that too many are grouped at the center and don’t make bold choices.
The only way to standout is with your hosts. Winnipeg radio has always had some syndicated material but sense of place requires a DJ who knows the territory. The most successful stations in town know this and pay well for a host who is well-known in the community. CBC, CJOB, Power 97 and Virgin Radio really emphasize the hosts and continuity in their positions.
The station 94.3 recently fired their entire staff to come back as 94.3 Now! radio. At one time, 94.3 was the top station. They have done format changes in the past and seen middling responses. Their format never really changes enough and their on air staff are too controlled to become a marketing force on their own. Stations routinely try to save money so you never know where the axe will fall. 92 CITI has no morning hosts at the moment even though a strong morning show can keep people on your station all day.
While Bell Media gutted sports radio TSN and has paid for it by even lower numbers with a comedy channel, they have kept Burpee and Beau and their teams in place at Virgin and Bounce and it generally pays off. Likeable and engaged hosts in the community help your brand more than a show broadcast from Toronto. Corus has done this recently with Anderson, Stevens and Aiello and their teams at CJOB, Peggy and Power 97.
The pandemic has hurt touring and music producers from promoting their material. While a lot has been produced music-wise, there is a connection when an artist is in a region and radio stations get interviews, have contests for tickets and access to to the stars. It helps the musician and it helps the radio station. For talk radio such as CJOB and CBC, much depends on sports. For CJOB, it is how well the Jets and Bombers do. For CBC, it will be Olympics. Having good regular content and hosts will help but there is a real burst of interest in the teams. It will be interesting to see if Anderson can make some inroads on CBC that former host Currier kept close. And for CBC, it will be if changes for weekend hosts are embraced.
Time will only tell what 2022 brings for the music industry and radio. Satellite radio, Spotify, podcasting and people’s own curated music will still play a huge part. But local content is key. Lose it and you lose any reason why people will read you, watch you or listen to you with any loyalty.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations