Feb 24, 2023 - News

Lin Brehmer tributes led to record ratings at WXRT

Change in Nielsen ratings for top Chicago-area radio stations
Data: Radio Online; Chart: Axios Visuals

The January radio ratings show a big jump for Chicago stations, including WXRT.

Driving the news: Chicagoans tuned in for the tributes and live memorials for broadcaster Lin Brehmer, who died last month after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.

  • Brehmer's death brought together the WXRT community and catapulted the radio station to the highest ratings in the station's history.

What they're saying: "In a broadcast lineup filled with smart and funny people, Lin was a standout. His ability to balance his intelligence and literacy with his talent for engaging a mass audience justifies his place in Chicago radio's pantheon of giants," Chicago Public Square's Charlie Meyerson told Axios after Brehmer's passing.

Between the lines: Brehmer still looms large on the modern rock station, which could see more listenership when the station does its yearly broadcast for Opening Day at Wrigley Field at the end of March.

  • The live show was a tradition for the late broadcaster.

Zoom in: Chicago is argued to be the birthplace of talk radio, so it's nice to see talk stations rebound with higher numbers in January, probably due to the interest in Chicago politics and the municipal election cycle.

  • WBEZ-FM and WGN-AM both reversed their downward trends from the end of 2022.
  • The (other) biggest winner was KISS-FM. The top 40's station climbed back into the top 10 with a monster January.

Biggest losers: Even though The Lite is still No. 1 overall, it took a significant tumble after the holidays (and its nonstop holiday music).

  • V-103 also took a step back. The perennial radio powerhouse dropped to seventh overall.

Of note: These ratings don't break down precisely when people are tuning in nor specific listener demographics.

  • And full disclosure, I've worked for a number of these stations.

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