- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

All-news radio station WTOP has essentially held onto the listeners it picked up after September 11, unlike news stations in other cities that saw only a brief ratings spike after the terrorist attacks.
Ratings released yesterday show WTOP (1500 AM and 107.7 FM) captured an average 5.4 percent of listeners in Washington or roughly 199,000 people between Jan. 3 and March 27. Last fall, the station had a 5.5 percent audience share, its highest ever, according to the Arbitron ratings service.
Overall, the station slipped from second place among Washington's 33 major commercial stations last fall to third place in the winter, Arbitron said.
But WTOP was No. 1 in the ratings in two key time slots, weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m., when more people listen to the radio than at any other time of day.
"To have a news station that is number one in the morning and afternoon drive times is an amazing feat. That just doesn't happen," said Tom Taylor, editor of M Street Daily, a radio industry trade publication.
Ratings released earlier this week showed news stations in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other cities that produced big ratings spikes after September 11 saw their numbers drop back over the winter months.
"We held on because our anchors probably have a little more personality than most other all-news stations. Our anchors aren't newsbots, and that keeps people coming back to them," said Jim Farley, WTOP's vice president of news and programming.
The WTOP surge has unsettled Washington's staid radio scene, which has been dominated by urban music stations for years.
As usual, Lanham urban station WPGC (95.5 FM) was Washington's top-rated radio station overall this past winter, capturing an average 6.1 percent of all listeners, or roughly 220,000 people.
The ratings released yesterday also show Fairfax talk station WJFK (106.7 FM) is rebuilding its audience after overhauling its schedule last year.
Last July, WJFK moved top-rated late-afternoon hosts Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara to 11 a.m. weekdays, replacing them in the lucrative afternoon-drive slot with the New York-based "Opie and Anthony" comedy show.
With "Opie and Anthony," WJFK is ranked No. 14 in the ratings between 3 and 7 p.m., up from 17th place in that slot last fall.
However, the station was in control of first place with "The Don & Mike Show" in that time slot in winter 2001.
Other stations that saw audience increases include talk radio station WMAL (630 AM), which recorded its biggest afternoon ratings in years with the syndicated "Sean Hannity Show."
Between 3 and 7 p.m. weekdays, WMAL tied with classical music station WGMS (103.5 FM) for fourth place.
In winter 2001, when WMAL aired Laura Schlessinger's syndicated advice show weekday afternoons, the station ranked No. 13 in that time slot.

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