After all, the two Chicago radio veterans had never worked together before, and one of them — McNeil — had earned a reputation over the years as rather mercurial, to put it mildly. In addition, the two professional talkers were replacing Steve Downes, a popular but low-key personality who’d hosted the music-intensive morning show for 14 years.
While it’s too early to render a final verdict, all signs look promising: Nielsen Audio ratings released Monday showed The Drive in sixth place in mornings with a 3.9 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 390,000. The duo debuted March 30; the survey period ran from March 26 to April 22.
Here’s what really counts: Among men between 25 and 54 — the station’s target audience — McMurray & McNeil tied for third with a 5.5 share and 150,800 cume. That’s up fractionally from Downes’ final month in time period. (Also third in the demo was McNeil’s former station, CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR AM 670, hosted by Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley.)
Insiders at The Drive say they’re pleased so far with the chemistry that’s developed among McMurray, McNeil, news anchor Kathy Voltmer and producer Scott Miller. But no one’s ready to comment on the ratings yet — perhaps because those are known to be pretty mercurial, too.
Among Chicago radio’s other morning drive newcomers, The Drive’s main competitor at this point is Erich Mancow Muller, who returned to the air March 30 at Cumulus Media classic rock WLUP FM 97.9. Ratings are looking a bit better there, too.
In the figures released Monday, The Loop tied for 20th in mornings overall with a 1.7 share and 278,000 cume. Among men between 25 and 54, it ranked eighth with a 4.1 share and 143,900 cume.
Bosses at The Loop say they haven’t begun promoting the morning show yet.