- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

Urban music station WMMJ-FM (102.3) zoomed to the top of the radio ratings over the summer, according to new data released by the Arbitron Inc. research service yesterday.
WMMJ tied with WPGC-FM (95.5) for first place among listeners age 12 and older, followed by WKYS-FM (93.9). Together, the three stations which all play some form of urban music captured roughly 17 percent of teenage and adult listeners, or about 96,400 people.
"There is a tremendous African-American audience in this market, and we all fight hard for it. It's not easy," said Michele Williams-Dressekie, WMMJ's general manager.
WPGC ranked first in summer 2001, followed by WKYS and WMMJ. Infinity Broadcasting Corp., a Viacom Inc. subsidiary, owns WPGC. Lanham-based Radio One Inc. owns WMMJ and WKYS.
The summer ratings represent the 84-day period from June 27 through Sept. 18. Stations use ratings to determine how much money to charge advertisers for airtime.
WMMJ, which plays primarily rhythm and blues, was the top choice for listeners between 25 and 54, a prized demographic for advertisers who believe this group has the greatest buying power. The station captured 6.5 percent of all adult listeners, slightly ahead of another urban station, Howard University's WHUR-FM (96.3), which drew 6.3 percent.
All-news station WTOP (1500 AM and 107.7 FM) climbed from a 4.9 percent audience share in summer 2001 to a 5.1 percent share this summer, but it remained in fourth place year-to-year.
The station, which Bonneville International Corp. owns, was the most popular station during morning drive time, a crucial slot because it draws the most listeners.
"[The ratings increase] is partly driven by the flow of news, and it's partly driven by consistency. We began building our audience even before September 11," said Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming.
The new numbers gave three stations, which changed their morning programs in the summer, their first glimpse at how they are faring.
In July, newcomers Jane Norris and Bill Press joined longtime morning host Andy Parks at ABC's news-and-talk station WMAL-AM (630). The station fell from a tie for fifth place in the mornings in summer 2001 to ninth place this summer.
Also in July, country music station WMZQ-FM (98.7) shipped longtime morning team Gary Murphy and Jessica Cash to sister station WBIG-FM (100.3), which plays oldies. Newcomers Ben Campbell and Brian Egan replaced Mr. Murphy and Miss Cash at WMZQ.
The oldies station rose from 12th place in the mornings in summer 2001 to eighth place this summer, while the country station fell from ninth to 13th place.
Executives at Clear Channel Communications Inc., which owns both stations, said they were satisfied.
It will take several months to determine the success of the morning show's changes, they said.


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