Chicago radio ratings: ‘Eric in the Morning’ reigns supreme

Melissa McGurren, Eric Ferguson and Brian “Whip” Paruch (Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

As sure as the sun rises over Lake Michigan, Eric Ferguson dominates morning radio in Chicago.

The Nielsen Audio ratings report released Monday shows the Radio Hall of Famer expanding his first-place lead in May after more than two decades as morning star of Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX 101.9-FM.

The Mix’s “Eric in the Morning” with Melissa McGurren and Brian “Whip” Paruch also increased its winning margin among listeners between 25 and 54 — the key demographic most closely tied to advertising revenue.

First in middays was Bob Stroud of Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM, and first in afternoons was Joe Soto of iHeartMedia urban adult-contemporary WVAZ 102.7-FM.

The reception wasn’t nearly as warm for Kevin “DreX” Buchar, who returned to Chicago radio in April after an eight-year absence. In place of Jamar “J Niice” McNeil and Michelle “Showbiz Shelly” Menaker on Entercom Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM, Buchar and co-host Nina Hajian debuted in 22nd place. Overall B96 fell to 20th, widening the gap with iHeartMedia Top 40 WKSC 103.5-FM, which tied for seventh.

Todd Cavanah, program director of B96, attributed the downturn to the morning reboot, but expressed confidence the show will succeed. “It just takes time for people to catch on,” Cavanah said. “We will get there.”

Another underperformer was Ed Lover, who signed on in April as morning host at WBMX 104.3-FM, the Entercom classic hip-hop and R&B station. Lover and co-host Jennifer “Jen BT” Farina dropped from 13th to 19th in their first month on 104.3 Jams.

The stunning collapse of WGN 720-AM continued, with the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station mired in 21st place. Steve Cochran’s slight uptick in mornings — from 15th to 12th — came before the announcement that Justin Kaufmann would replace Andrea Darlas on Cochran’s show. (Darlas, in turn, is replacing Kaufmann as evening co-host alongside Patti Vasquez.)

The latest Nielsen Audio survey ran from April 26 to May 23.

Here are Chicago’s top 30 radio stations from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday, as measured by Nielsen Audio in May, followed by format and average share of listeners age 6 and older (with April share in parentheses):

1. WVAZ 102.7-FM urban adult contemporary, 5.9 (6.1)
2. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM all news, 4.9 (4.9)
3. WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 4.8 (4.6)
4. WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 4.7 (5.0)
5. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 4.6 (5.0)
6. WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 4.3 (3.8)
7. (tie) WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 3.6 (3.3); WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 3.6 (3.2)
9. (tie) WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 3.5 (3.5); WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.5 (3.5)
11. (tie) WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip hop, 3.4 (3.5); WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 3.4 (3.3)
13. WUSN 99.5-FM country, 3.3 (3.5)
14. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM urban contemporary, 3.1 (2.8); WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 3.1 (3.1)
16. WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 2.8 (3.0)
17. WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 2.7 (2.6)
18. WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 2.6 (3.0)
19. WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 2.5 (2.3)
20. WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 2.4 (2.7)
21. WGN 720-AM news talk, 2.2 (2.0)
22. WPWX 92.3-FM urban contemporary, 2.0 (2.1)
23. WEBG 95.5-FM country, 1.8 (1.8)
24. WLS 890-AM news talk, 1.7 (1.8)
25. WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian, 1.5 (no rating)
26. WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.3 (1.4)
27. WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 1.2 (1.1)
28. WERV 95.9-FM classic hits, 1.0 (0.7)
29. (tie) WFMT 98.7-FM classical, 0.9 (1.2); WMBI 90.1-FM Christian ministry, 0.9 (0.8)

Here are Chicago radio’s top 10 morning shows from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio in May, followed by host and average share of listeners age 6 and older (with April share in parentheses):

1. WTMX 101.9-FM Eric Ferguson 7.7 (7.2)
2. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy 6.9 (7.0)
3. WVAZ 102.7-FM Steve Harvey 5.4 (5.0)
4. WOJO 105.1-FM Raúl Molinar, Carla Medrano and Andrés Maldonado 5.2 (5.5)
5. WDRV 97.1-FM Brian Sherman and Steve Tingle 3.9 (4.3)
6. WKSC 103.5-FM Christopher “Fred” Frederick and Angi Taylor 3.7 (3.6)
7. WLS 94.7-FM Dave Fogel and Kim Berk 3.6 (3.8)
8. WXRT 93.1-FM Lin Brehmer 3.5 (3.6)
9. WLEY 107.9-FM Alberto Terry “El Terrible” Cortez 3.4 (4.0)
10. WSCR 670-AM Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley 3.3 (3.6)

Here are Chicago radio’s top 10 midday shows from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio in May, followed by host and average share of listeners age 6 and older (with April share in parentheses):

1. WDRV 97.1-FM Bob Stroud 5.6 (5.4)
2. WVAZ 102.7-FM Bioncé Foxx 5.4 (5.7)
3. WLS 94.7-FM Greg Brown 5.3 (4.5)
4. (tie) WOJO 105.1-FM Rafael “El Primo Rafa” Bautista 4.4 (5.4); WXRT 93.1-FM Terri Hemmert; Marty Lennartz 4.4 (3.8)
6. (tie) WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Cisco Cotto and Kris Kridel 4.2 (4.0); WRME 87.7-FM 4.2 (4.2)
8. (tie) WLIT 93.9-FM Robin Rock 3.9 (3.8); WTMX 101.9-FM Lisa Allen 3.9 (3.9)
10. WLEY 107.9-FM Diane Fong 3.7 (3.7)

Here are Chicago radio’s top 10 afternoon shows from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, as measured by Nielsen Audio in May, followed by host and average share of listeners age 6 and older (with April share in parentheses):

1. WVAZ 102.7-FM Joe Soto 5.7 (5.6)
2. (tie) WDRV 97.1-FM Steve Seaver 4.7 (4.6); WOJO 105.1-FM Sylvia del Valle, Jose Gutierrez and Carlos Ivan Paez 4.7 (5.0)
4. WTMX 101.9-FM Kevin “Koz” Koske and Jennifer Roberts 4.5 (5.2)
5. WLS 94.7-FM Ron Parker 4.4 (3.8)
6. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM Kris Kridel and Keith Johnson 4.2 (4.1)
7. WKSC 103.5-FM Brady Broski 3.9 (3.6)
8. WLIT 93.9-FM Mick Lee 3.7 (3.3)
9. WUSN 99.5-FM Mike Kasper 3.6 (3.6)
10. (tie) WBEZ 91.5-FM “All Things Considered” 3.4 (3.4); WBMX 104.3-FM Sean “Sonic” Leckie 3.4 (3.7); WGCI 107.5-FM Tone Kapone 3.4 (3.1); WRME 87.7-FM 3.4 (3.1)

Monday’s comment of the day: Max Armstrong: As one who had an office in Tribune Tower for more than two decades, it’s hard not to recall the media executives who made terrible, costly decisions, and did so with arrogance. But we also had the privilege of working with some superb media industry leaders whose contributions we will always appreciate.