- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

The return of mischievous hosts Don Geronimo and Mike O’Meara brought talk-radio station WJFK-FM (106.7) back to life during afternoon drive in the winter, according to Arbitron Inc. ratings released yesterday.Listeners 12 and older ranked WJFK fifth weekdays between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. among the 35 major stations in the Washington area, 12th among all time slots. It was the first winter ratings period for Mr. Geronimo, whose real name is Mike Sorce, and Mr. O’Meara since they returned to afternoons last September after a year on the midday shift.WJFK ranked 14th in winter 2002, when it carried the New York-based “Opie and Anthony Show” in late afternoons.The station fared even better with its target audience, adults between 25 and 54. Among this group, it ranked third, up from 10th place in winter 2002.”This is a testament to Don and Mike’s strength in this market, and I’m grateful to them. When you go from the middle of the pack to the top five in one [ratings period], that’s pretty significant,” said Michael Hughes, senior vice president and market manager for Infinity Broadcasting Corp., which owns WJFK and four other stations in the area.The hosts of the freewheeling “Don and Mike Show” frequently quiz celebrity guests about their sex lives and play games with listeners, such as their signature “Low-Budget Jeopardy.” In August 2001, Infinity moved the program from its longtime afternoon perch on WJFK to make way for “Opie and Anthony.” One year later, Infinity dumped “Opie and Anthony” from national syndication, paving the way for Mr. Geronimo and Mr. O’Meara to reclaim their old time slot.Stations use ratings to set advertising rates. For years, WJFK generated more revenue than any other station in the Washington area, but last year it slipped to second place behind powerhouse news broadcaster WTOP (1500 AM and 107.7 FM), according to estimates by media research group BIA Financial Network Inc.Arbitron measured the period from Jan. 2 through March 26. As usual, the top three stations among all listeners were urban music broadcasters WMMJ-FM (102.3) and WPGC-FM (95.5), and WTOP, which had the highest winter ratings among adults in its history.The syndicated “Sean Hannity Show” helped ABC-owned WMAL-AM (630) reach fourth place among all listeners and sixth place among adults 25 to 54 during late afternoons.Morning drive remains a trouble spot for WMAL. The news-and-talk station ranked sixth among all listeners and 15th among adults 25 to 54 during morning drive.”For a station like this, mornings tend to be the engine that drive the rest of the day. I would have liked to have seen some stronger growth in that area,” said Chris Berry, WMAL’s president and general manager.Stations that toyed with their lineup before the ratings period began experienced mixed results.Infinity shifted “The Sports Junkies” show from evenings on WJFK to morning drive on WHFS-FM (99.1) last November, boosting the alternative rock station in the winter. Among all listeners during morning drive, WHFS moved from 22nd place in winter 2002 to 18th this winter.Among WHFS’ target audience, men between 18 and 49, “Sports Junkies” moved WHFS from 10th to seventh place in the mornings. The “Elliot in the Morning” show on rocker WWDC-FM (101.1), a Clear Channel Communications Inc. station, fell from second to sixth place among men 18 to 49.Morning-drive ratings for Clear Channel-owned country station WMZQ-FM (98.7) dipped under new hosts Ben Egan and Brian Campbell. Among adults 25 to 54, the station tied for 10th place in the winter, down from sixth place one year earlier.

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