- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2002

Fairfax talk-radio station WJFK (106.7 FM) has plummeted in the ratings since shuffling its afternoon lineup last summer, according to new audience research.
WJFK slid from fourth place among Washington's 33 commercial stations in fall 2000 to 12th place last fall, the Arbitron ratings service said in its latest report, released last week.
The study measured the period from Sept. 20 to Dec. 12.
It was the first local ratings report since July, when WJFK moved popular late-afternoon hosts Don Geronimo (whose real name is Mike Sorce) and Mike O'Meara to an earlier time period, replacing them in the lucrative afternoon-drive slot with the New York-based "Opie and Anthony" comedy show.
"There may be some hard feelings from the hard-core Don and Mike fans. They may not be ready to accept this new team from out of town," says Tom Taylor, editor of M Street Daily, an industry trade publication.
When "The Don & Mike Show" aired weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. last fall, it ranked first in its time period. But with "Opie and Anthony," WJFK's ratings dropped to 17th place in that slot.
The numbers don't worry Mr. Sorce, who also serves as WJFK's program director. He says it will take "Opie and Anthony" time to find its audience.
"You don't flip a switch and start off with a big rating. It takes time," he says.
And even though WJFK's overall numbers are low, the station still does well among its target audience of young men, Mr. Sorce says.
WJFK may be able to afford to be patient with "Opie & Anthony."
The station, which is owned by a Viacom subsidiary, generated $33.8 million in revenue in 2000, the most of any Washington radio station, according to estimates from Chantilly media research group BIA Financial Network.
Listeners still like "Don & Mike," which now airs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It tied for fourth in its new time period, an improvement over G. Gordon Liddy's 10th-place finish in the slot one year earlier.
WJFK fired Mr. Liddy last July when it overhauled its schedule.
The fall ratings report also showed big gains for all-news station WTOP (1500 AM and 107.7 FM). The station, which has been climbing steadily in the ratings for four years, recorded its best fall ratings in its history, and ranked No. 2 overall.
For the first time, WTOP has the No. 1 morning show. Its morning newsreaders, Mike Moss and Richard Day, now outdraw stalwart DJs Howard Stern, Tom Joyner and Jack Diamond from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays.
WASH (97.1 FM) also saw an increase. The Rockville soft rock station switched to an all-holiday music format for 33 days after Thanksgiving, and tied for sixth place in the ratings, up from ninth place in fall 2000.
Tuning out 'toons
An era ended this month when cartoons disappeared from WTTG-TV's afternoon lineup.
The Fox affiliate had courted after-school viewers since it signed onto the airwaves in May 1945. It used to purchase syndicated cartoons to air weekday afternoons until the early 1990s, when the Fox network began feeding its stations a "Fox Kids" cartoon block that aired nationally from 2 to 4 p.m.
But facing a slumping advertising market and tough competition from cartoons on cable TV, Fox decided to drop its children's shows, beginning Dec. 31.
Fox affiliates across the country are now responsible for filling the "Fox KidS" time slot themselves. WTTG is plugging its hole with reruns of "M*A*S*H" and Maury Povich's morning talk show.
Fox is also considering ditching its Saturday morning cartoon lineup. Last month, NBC decided to drop its Saturday morning shows and lease the airtime to the Discovery Channel, which will pay $6 million a year to fill the slot with educational shows for children.
Channel Surfing is published every other Monday. Got a tip? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to [email protected]

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