Hartford Radio Ratings Reflect Dominance of FM Stations

The most recent radio ratings in the Hartford market confirm the dominance of FM radio and the continued long slide of AM radio and audience levels overall.  The top seven most listened-to stations in the market are FM, led by perennial ratings leader WRCH-FM, a CBS Radio owned Adult Contemporary format station, with an 11.6 rating. Tightly bunched behind WRCH-FM are WWYZ-FM (country music), with a rating of 7.5, WTIC-FM (hot adult contemporary) at 7.4, WHCN-FM (classic hits) at 7.0 and WKSS-FM (contemporary hits) at 6.9. on air

Rounding out the top eight are WZMX-FM at 6.5, WDRC-FM at 6.3, and WTIC-AM at 5.9.

Then the ratings drop down to WNPR-FM at 2.6, WDRC-AM at 1.1, WFCR-FM (based in Amherst, MA) at 0.9 and WPOP-AM at 0.1.  WPOP recently switched to a news/talk format, and plans to broadcast Hartford Yard Goats minor league baseball games.  WDRC-FM switched to a Classic Rock format, similar to the music that played a decade ago on WCCC and WHCN.

The ratings profile, covering listening habits in November 2015, contains an quarter hour share (AQH) rating -- the average number of persons, ages 6+, who listened during any average quarter hour from 6am to midnight, Monday through Sunday in the Survey Area, Metropolitan Hartford.radio ratings

Fifteen years ago, before smart phones, internet radio, satellite radio and a limitless supply of alternate listening options, the numbers were higher across the board, and AM radio – in the case of WTIC – was often at the top of the list, or not far behind.

Here’s what the ratings looked like in April 2001:

WTIC-AM1080 was the most-listened-to radio station in the Hartford market, posting a 13.1 share in the winter rating period, up from the 10.3 it logged in the fall ratings.  WRCH fell from 11.8 to 10.5 to finish second. WKSS-FM also suffered a ratings drop, as reported at the time by the Journal Inquirer. The station racked up an 8.2 rating, down from the 9.7 it chalked up during the fall ratings period.

WWYZ-FM advanced from a 6.6 to a 7.7 to finish fourth overall.  WTIC-FM enjoyed a slight improvement, advancing from 6.8 to 7.0.  Rounding out the Top 10 were WDRC-FM (4.9), WCCC-FM (4.8), WDRC-AM (3.7), WMRQ-FM (3.) and WHCN-FM (3.1, up from 2.8).

Finishing 11th was WZMX-FM, which slid from a 3.1 in the fall to a 2.7 in the winter. WAQY-FM (West Springfield,MA), , finished 12th with a 1.9 rating.  The area's all-sports station, WPOP-AM1410, was far back in the pack with a 0.7 share.

Among the morning programs, in overall ratings, WTIC's Ray Dunaway and Diane Smith attained a 17.2 rating. WRCH was second with an 8.8 share. WTIC-FM was third with an 8.4 share, followed by WWYZ and WKSS. WCCC-FM gained a half-point to finish sixth with a 6.4 share.WRCH1

A new station took high honors among the 25-54 demographic among morning shows. WTIC-FM and host Gary Craig posted an 11.3 to grab the No. 1 spot.  WTIC-AM was second with a 10.4 rating.  WRCH was third, followed by WCCC.howard stern

In the 18-34 age bracket, WKSS was No. 1, WCCC was second overall in the young demographic. In morning shows, WCCC and Howard Stern continued in the No. 1 position. WCCC grabbed a 15.6 share in the morning, WKSS was second, at 12.8.  WMRQ and its morning host, former Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider, attained a 10.7 rating.

First-Of-Its-Kind Audio Service for Spanish-Speakers with Print Disabilities Launched in CT

CRIS Radio, a 36-year-old nonprofit based in Windsor and Connecticut’s only radio-reading service, has introduced its new Spanish-language streaming service, expanding the services offered by the volunteer-based organization with a longstanding, solid track-record of responsive programming. The service, called CRIS en Español, is the first in the nation to offer an extensive line-up of audio versions of Spanish-language magazines – all featuring human narration -- for Spanish-speakers who are blind or have a print disability, including those with learning, physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities.cris-logo

“This collaboration is essential to the people we serve in the Hispanic community,” said Annette Deonarine, director of Latino Initiative of Advocacy Unlimited at Toivo Center in Hartford. “It will enable people who are disabled to receive quality broadcasts that are culturally competent and in a language that is understood by many people from different Latino cultures.”

Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, who attended the launch of the new audio services, said: “CRIS Radio has for years made sure people stay connected to current events, culture and literature. I’m very grateful to see that they’re expanding this valuable service to Spanish-speaking audiences.”

Included in the CRIS en Español programming are articles published in Spanish-language magazines and newspapers such as Identidad, National Geographic in Spanish, Cosmopolitan in Spanish, Hola and People in Spanish.  All CRIS recordings feature human narration, thanks to CRIS volunteers who provide the voice talent. The recordings also are available on-demand at crisradio.org or from special CRIS Internet radios.

“Thanks to funding from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, CRIS Radio is launching Spanish-language programming to better meet the needs of the Latino community who are blind or print disabled,” said Diane Weaver Dunne, executive director of CRIS Radio. “CRIS is now providing Internet radios tuned to CRIS en Español’s URL free-of-charge to organizations that serve Spanish-speakers with disabilities.”Sitting, Diane Weaver Dunne and Pedro Segarro. Standing, from lieft, Annette Deonarine, Yanira Rios, Alice Diaz, Deron Drumm, Kelvin Young and Jon Jacobs.

CRIS (Connecticut Radio Information System) provides audio access to news and information for people who are blind or print-challenged, including those unable to read due to physical, learning, intellectual or emotional disabilities. CRIS operates with more than 300 volunteers at its broadcast center in Windsor and regional studios located in Danbury, Norwich, Trumbull, West Haven and at ESPN in Bristol.

Jon Jacobs, program director of Humanidad, which operates group homes for Spanish-speakers with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Greater Hartford, piloted the service at two group homes. “CRIS en Español is an impactful and informative service that brings Spanish-language programming right to the homes of our consumers, Jacobs said. “This is a warm, informative, and user-friendly way to bring culturally competent content to the members of our community with special needs.”

CRIS Radio broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week featuring articles published in more than 70 newspapers and magazines, including award-winning children's magazines available online and on-demand. Programs powered by CRIS Radio include: CRIS Radio; CRIS Listen Now (online streaming); CRIS Listen On Demand; CRISKids, and CRISKids for Schools.

Photo:  Attending the demonstration of CRIS en Español, are: (sitting), Diane Weaver Dunne, executive director of CRIS Radio; and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarro; Standing, from left, are Standing, from left, Annette Deonarine, Yanira Rios, Alice Diaz, Deron Drumm, Kelvin Young and Jon Jacobs.


Hartford's WPOP Goes Back to the Future with News, Talk Format

The goal, in the latest format change among local radio stations, is to become “the go-to station for news, weather and traffic” in the Hartford market.  WPOP, with a lengthy local history that features incarnations as a pop music station, all-news station, and sports talk station, has again assumed the moniker of “NewsRadio 1410 WPOP”, last used nearly two decades ago. Owned by iHeart radio, which has hired a new program director due in the Capitol City from a major market in the coming weeks, the newly rebranded station aims to make the transition to a news format that responds to and reflects the preferences of the local audience, according to Dave Symonds Sr., Vice President of Programming for iHeart Radio in Hartford.logo new WPOP

“There is a huge upside to the format change.  We did a lot of research and there was a high degree of dissatisfaction with the non-sports news talk programming” available in the Hartford market, Symonds said.  Regional Market President Steve Honeycomb added"It’s been almost 18-years since the all-news format was heard on WPOP 1410AM. We’re excited to bring back News Radio 1410 WPOP, an iconic brand and station focused on News, Traffic and Weather to serve the Hartford community, in the iHeartMedia line-up.”

The new WPOP-AM line-up will, at the outset, include mostly syndicated national programs including a daytime focus on financial news and The Vinnie Penn Project, which has been heard on WELI in New Haven since 2011.  The program will now be heard 6-9 AM on both stations, with an additional hour, 9-10 AM exclusively on WPOP.

“There are a lot of shared issues in New Haven and Hartford,” Symonds points out.  The program will originate in New Haven on some mornings, in Hartford on others. iHeart radio stations in Connecticut, formerly Clear Channel stations, include KC101, KISS95.7, The River 105.9, Country 92.5, 97.9 ESPN, and 960 WELI and WAVZ  in New Haven.

The new station's programming line-up will include: The Vinnie Penn Project    6-10 a.m. The Financial Exchange    10 a.m-12 p.m. Bloomberg  Radio               12:00p.m.-3 p.m. Howie Carr                            3-6 p.m. (based in Boston) Mark Levin                            6-9 p.m. America Now                        9 p.m.-12 a.m.

Most recently, the station had aired a sports/talk format including Fox Sports Radio content. Years ago, from 1956-1975, it was a pop music station, the inspiration for the station’s call letters.  The station routinely battled WDRC for the rock’n’roll music audience, before FM radio came to dominate that format.  In August 1972 it was announced that TV entertainer Merv Griffin's company, January Enterprises Inc., was buying WPOP for $2.75 million. Griffin, who came to town to visit the station, took control the following March, according to published reports.  Just a few years later, the music died on WPOP.  On June 30, 1975, WPOP abandoned music programming in favor of the new (and ultimately short-lived) NBC Radio News and Information Service.  But a news station in Hartford was born.

The station maintained an all-news format, which included local news/talk programming, for more than two decades, before the switch to sports talk programming in 1997 (first ESPN, than FOX in 2012).  Among the local newscasters who spent time at WPOP in its all-news heyday are Gerry Brooks, Scott Gray, and Joanne Nesti, whose careers blossomed at other radio and television stations in the market.  Numerous WPOP veterans went on to broadcast news careers around the country.

Those interested in hearing the new format can tune into News Radio 1410 WPOP on the station’s website, www.newsradio1410wpop.com, and through the iHeartRadio mobile app. Hartford is part of Nielsen radio market No. 52. WPOP is a 5 kW day/night station on 1410 kHz.

The Hartford market currently has other locally originated and syndicated news and talk programming.  Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media purchased a group of stations in the state including the WDRC-led “Talk of Connecticut” stations, anchored by the weekday morning locally originated Brad Davis Show.  The remainder of the broadcast schedule on WDRC-AM (as well as simulcast on WMMW Meriden, WWCO Waterbury and WSNG Torrington) consists of nationally syndicated programs, including Kilmeade & Friends, Dave Ramsey, The Savage Nation, The Schnitt Show, The Lars Larson Show and Overnight America.wpop newsradio

WTIC-AM 1080 broadcasts the local Ray Dunaway show and Jim Vicevich program weekday mornings, before moving to nationally syndicated programs, including Rush Limbaugh, for the remainder of the broadast day.

WNPR, part of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, has locally originated talk programs including Where We Live, weekday mornings at 9 a.m. hosted by John Dankosky, the Colin McEnroe program each afternoon, and Faith Middleton’s long-running talk program weekday afternoons.

There is no word yet on whether WPOP will have local news reporters, as WTIC and WNPR, or news programming beyond local newscasts during the syndicated talk shows.  Those decisions will be made, officials say, as audience feedback to the new format is evaluated and the new program director settles in.  Although iHeart Radio has news and talk formatted stations in other markets across the country, Symonds said the approach taken for WPOP will be “customized for Hartford.”

[Logos for WPOP in its news formats - new logo above left, 1980's logo lower right.]

Celebrated DJ Who Started at WCCC Going Strong as Station's Rock Era Ends

There were two milestones in radio broadcasting during the past 12 months that connected to the career of on-air personality and Hartford native Rusty Potz. Last week, Potz’ former radio home, WCCC in Hartford, was sold to new owners who abruptly ended the station’s decades-long rock-n-roll format. It was in the early ‘70’s that Potz was a leading DJ at the Hartford station, which later that decade featured a DJ named Howard Stern. Potz was well known in Hartford, moving on, like Stern, to new opportunities. That’s where the other milestone draws attention. Potz didn’t move too far – to radio station WLNG in Sag Harbor on Long Island. And he has been there ever since – from 1975 though the station’s 50th anniversary celebration last year, and continues on the air six days a week.

As WCCC has slipped away, WLNG is going strong. The station’s oldies format, local news coverage, and community orientation has loyal listeners in high places, as was evident in March this year.

The Sag Harbor Exprrusty potzess reported this spring that WLNG was the prime topic of conversation on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Mr. Fallon asked Mr. Joel to join him in crashing Sag Harbor’s oldies station WLNG 92.1 and the singer, a longtime resident of Sag Harbor, enthusiastically agreed, the newspaper reported. The celebrities plugged the small station in front of a nationwide audience—over four million— resulting in a flood of listeners and website traffic for WLNG.

“We’re a nostalgia station,” Potz told the Sag Harbor Express last year. He is the executive vice president and has been with the station for 38 years. “We’re a part of people’s lives… People like a station that’s familiar. They want to know what they can expect. The oldies we play, we have just about every hit that ever came out.”WCCC All Request Radio

Potz earned his degree from the University of Hartford, and has been in radio since 1963 - on 20 different radio stations, most of them in Hartford, New Haven, and Springfield, MA.  At one time, he worked at four stations simultaneously.

In 1967, at WPOP Rusty's show was the top rated evening show in Connecticut, his station biography reports.  In 1969 WAVZ in New Haven received the TV-RADIO MIRROR award for Rusty's show as the top show on the east coast. Rusty was the program director at WCCC in Hartford for many years, including the years when the station featured the "All Request Radio" format, and came to WLNG on September 1, 1975.

The history of WCCC counted numerous broadcasters who went on to enduring careers. Howard Stern is perhaps the best known nationally. But for listeners in Eastern Long Island, Rusty Potz remains a household name.

An additional Connecticut connection was apparent recently. One of Potz’ guests on his WLNG program last month was former Channel 8 newscaster and ESPN broadcaster George Grande. Both were quite prominent on the Connecticut broadcast scene in the ‘70’s. Grande hosted the first edition of SportsCenter on ESPN in 1979, going on to a sportscasting career in New York, Cincinnati and as host of the annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony for more than two decades.



New Owners, Big Changes at Former “Big D”; Classic Rock Formats Differ by Geography

At the start of this week, Westport-based Connoisseur Media became the new owners of Connecticut’s oldest radio station, WDRC, owned for the past half-century by Buckley Broadcasting. The sale also included Buckley Connecticut stations WMMW AM in Meriden, WWCO AM in Waterbury and WSNG AM in Torrington, which have been added to Connoisseur stations in New Haven and Fairfield counties, WPLR, WYBC, the Fox and Star. At WDRC, virtually within minutes, several on-air personalities, the general manager and program director became former employees. The station’s website and Facebook changed, a new logo was launched, and a station with a heritage as one of the nation’s best know music stations as rock-n-roll took root in the 1960’s adopted a tagline that read “Classic Hits of the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and More.” Veteran broadcasters Mike Stevens, ‘Rockin’ Ron Sedaille, Floyd Wright and Grahame Winters were all dropped by WDRC’s new owners this week, along with Vice President/General Manager Eric Fahnoe. con_media2_6000px

The company’s largest cluster of stations is in the Northeast, predominantly in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But Connoisseur also owns stations in markets including Billings, MT, Rapid City, SD, Witchita, KS, Omaha, NE, and Bloomington, IL.

The station’s website now lists the quartet of Kim Zachary, Mike Lapitino, Allan Lamberti, and Rob Ray as on-air talent. Lapitino has been 99.1 WPLR’s afternoon air personality; Lamberti has handled the evening hours at thwdrc_main_logoe New Haven-based station. Lamberti, who has also been on air at Connoisseur’s Fairfield County classic rock station, 95.9 FOX, was on the afternoon drive shift at WDRC-FM. Chaz & AJ, the veteran morning drive duo, are heard simultaneously on both the New Haven and Fairfield County stations.

CEO Jeffrey D. Warshaw founded Connoisseur Communications Partners, LP, in 1993. Through strategic purchases of multiple single radio stations in medium to small sized radio markets, the company grew to 39 stations (owned or operated) prior to this week’s final sale of the Connecticut stations. Allan

In May, the company also announced plans to purchase WALK-AM/FM on Long Island, where the company already owns four radio stations. Among them are some Classic Rock formatted stations, although a national study released this week suggests that what listens hear in such a format varies across the country.

A new study by the well-respected data-driven website FiveThirtyEight “found that classic rock is more than just music from a certain era, and that it changes depending on where you live. What plays in New York — a disproportionate amount of Billy Joel, for example — won’t necessarily fly in San Antonio, which prefers Mötley Crüe.” The website studied the airplay of classic rock stations in the nation’s top 30 markets for a week, and analyzed what was played.

“Classic rock is heavily influenced by region, and in ways that are unexpected. For example, Los Angeles is playing Pearl Jam, a band most popular in the 1990s, five times more frequently than the rest of the country. Boston is playing the ’70s-era Allman Brothers six times more frequently.” WDRC was not included in their review of classic rock stations in the nation’s top markets.

The website reported that “the trend steadily held” for songs “of the ’70s and through the mid-’80s,” with the 10-year period from 1973 to 1982 accounting for 57 percent of all song plays. When ‘60’s songs were played, they were predominantly from the Beatles, the study summary noted. “Classic rock peaked — by song plays — in 1973.”

The analysis also found that “the top 25 most frequently played artists — the likes of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and the Rolling Stones — together account for almost half of the spins on classic rock stations in the U.S. Another way of saying that is 5 percent of all the bands played on these stations made up nearly 50 percent of the song plays — which shows that there is at least a classic rock core.”

Staff changes are yet to be finalized, but at present Connoisseur ‘s General Manager for its stations in southern Connecticut, Kristin Okesson, will oversee the Hartford area stations. Okesson currently manages WPLR, WEZN, WFOX, and WYBC.

WDRC is considered the oldest radio station in Connecticut, begun in 1920 in New Haven by Franklin Doolittle Radio Corp., eventually relocating to Hartford (ultimately to 750 Main Street) and then to its current location at 869 Blue Hills Avenue in Bloomfield. WDRC-AM switched from a music to talk format decades ago, with WDRC-FM retaining the “Big D” style popularized in the ‘60’s and tweaked through the decades.