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CUMULUS DELIVERS STRONG SPRING RATINGS

The recently released spring 2012 radio ratings report produced some pleasant numbers for cluster newcomer Cumulus Media, which officially took over operations of five Tucson stations from financially ailing Citadel Broadcasting about a year ago.

The three top-rated stations in Arbitron's calculations for listeners 12 and older among privately operated signals are no surprise, but the margin of victory for the market's top station—1.5 points better than its closest competitor—was good news for Cumulus linchpin and country-music juggernaut KIIM FM 99.5.

It delivered a 9.4 spring share, which is pretty stable. But it looks like a convincing win, because the market's other top performers—Top 40 format KRQQ FM 93.7 and adult-contemporary KMXZ FM 94.9, aka Mix FM—either treaded water or suffered major dips.

KRQQ, owned by Clear Channel, registered a 12-plus share of 7.9. That's a pretty typical number when compared to other recent ratings periods, but nearly a point off last summer's 8.8 rating, the last time KRQ won the market.

The folks at Journal-owned KMXZ, meanwhile, hope the spring book is just a glitch: Its 6.6 share is the station's lowest in recent memory, and down nearly two points from the winter book (which is always good for the station, because it includes the month of Christmas music that KMXZ plays).

Lotus-operated regional-Mexican format KCMT FM 102.1 placed fourth with a 6.3 share. Last spring, KCMT had a 7 share, its best number ever, but then drifted in subsequent books.

Cumulus classic-hits station KHYT FM 107.5 was a big mover. It held down the market's No. 5 spot with a 4.9 share.

Cumulus also got a strong performance from adult-standards station KTUC AM 1400, which delivered a 2.1 share, now considered the best rating among AM stations, because news/talk KNST AM 790 now simulcasts its format at 97.1 FM. KNST garnered a 3.8 share, which dominated news/talk competitor KQTH 104.1 FM's 2.1 number.

The simulcast approach probably benefited sports format KFFN, broadcast at the weak 104.9 FM frequency and the equally weak 1490 AM. It registered a 1.1 share, besting competitor KCUB 1290 AM, the Cumulus sports-talk station (which hires me for UA football and men's basketball pregame and postgame broadcasts).

Two stations that recently changed formats did not see positive results from those moves. Clear Channel-owned decades-hits format KMIY FM 92.9 tallied a 3.0, down from 3.3 in the previous book. That's certainly not good news for a station with such a strong signal.

Cumulus changed the format at KSZR FM 97.5 from its stagnating BOB hits-of-whatever approach to a Top 40 effort, a move designed to cut into KRQ's listener base. So far, that's been an uncertain endeavor, at best, with KSZR delivering a 12-plus share of 2.0. That's about what it did as BOB. Cumulus might argue that the people responsible for the new share are different than the BOB listeners, and therefore, the demographic is playing a role in KRQ's stagnation. Future ratings books will determine whether there's anything to that.


BOOKS ARE STILL IN VOGUE

"Ratings book" is one of those terms that should be outdated, a remnant of a slow-transitioning vocabulary that's technologically obsolete. But in Tucson, it remains accurate—and probably will for the foreseeable future.

In larger markets, Arbitron has transitioned to the Portable People Meter, a pagerlike device that electronically tracks radio-listening habits. While the process has generated some complaints, the People Meter is significantly more user-friendly: Participants just clip and go, as opposed to the old diary method, in which random listeners are asked to write down what station they're listening to, and when. Sometimes, diaries don't get filled out until the day they're due. The procrastination can skew the results.

Many in Tucson had hoped the market would be included in the next People Meter expansion, but according to Arbitron spokeswoman Kim Myers, "As of right now, Arbitron does not plan to roll out the PPM in any additional markets beyond the 48 in which we already have services up and running."

Tucson is ranked No. 62 in terms of market size.


KXCI HOSTS HOUSE ROCKIN' BLUES FUNDRAISER

Community radio-station KXCI FM 91.3 has scheduled a fundraiser at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 10, at El Casino Ballroom.

The House Rockin' Blues Review is slated to include performances by Hans Olson, Tony Uribe, Danny Krieger, Mike Blommer, Hurricane Carla, Steve Grams, Alex Flores, John Strasser and Heather Hardy, with backup band assistance from the Bad News Blues Band. Among the other performers: Tom Walbank and Stefan George, and three members of Kings of Pleasure, who will team with the Mike Hebert Band, featuring vocalist Katherine Byrnes and saxophonist Jeff Grubic.

Tickets run $8 for KXCI members; otherwise, they're $10 in advance or $12 at the door. They can be purchased at Antigone Books, the Folk Shop, the Parish Gastropub and KXCI.


KLTU BOOSTS SIGNAL STRENGTH

Christian-music station KLTU 88.1 FM has moved its transmitter to the Tucson Mountains. The hope is that the relocation will send a stronger signal to listeners in northwest Tucson and Oro Valley.

KLTU, which operates under the syndicated K-Love moniker, is owned by Good News Communications, which also operates three AMs (KVOI 1030, KCEE 690, KGMS 940) in Tucson, and AM stations in Douglas, Sierra Vista and Globe.

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