Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is Anyone Listening to News-Press Radio?

You might remember a couple of years ago when mayor Marty Blum and then county supervisor Susan Rose were barred from appearing on News-Press Radio by editorial page editor Travis Armstrong. It resulted in a contretemps then, but if it happened today, my advice to the mayor and supervisor would be not to sweat it. Not when you consider how few people listen to "News-Press Radio" as compared to the other radio stations in town.

According to the radio rating service Arbitron, for the period April to June of this year, "News-Press Radio 1290" (KZSB) had a 1.4% share of the audience.

For that same period KIST-AM and KMGQ both had 2.7% shares. KRUZ had a 3.2; KJEE had a 3.6; and classical station KDB had a 4.1% share.

Spanish language station KSPE had a 5.4.

K-Lite had a 6.3, as did hip-hop station 103.3 "The Vibe." KTYD "The Rock on the Coast" or "Mighty Fine 99" (I know, I'm dating myself) had a 6.8, and KTMS, the station on which Marty Blum has her own show, had a 7.2% share.

And the number-one-rated radio station in Santa Barbara for the spring rating period? It's KIST-FM, which is a Spanish language station that plays "Mexican regional" music, checking in with a 7.7% share.

To give you an idea of how poorly News-Press radio appears to be doing in the ratings: more people in Santa Barbara listen to KFI 640 out of Los Angeles, (1.8% share) than listen to News-Press Radio.

Although Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw actually doesn't own News-Press Radio 1290 (KZSB), the News-Press has a contract to provide its programming content. The station is owned by Dennis Weibling of Seattle, a friend of McCaw's who purchased the station in 2005 from comedian Bob Newhart for $750,000.

You'd think that given the opportunity to cross-promote her radio station with her newspaper and vice versa, McCaw could generate more synergy between the two, but these numbers from the spring rating period indicate that it's not happening.