Oct 16, 2023 - Business

"The Drive" accelerates to top of Chicago radio ratings

Change in Nielsen ratings for top Chicago-area radio stations
Orange = How much the ratings have dropped since August. Purple = How much they've gained. Credit: Data: Radio Online; Chart: Axios Visuals

"The Drive," for the first time this year, has caught up with "the Lite" at the top of the radio ratings.

Driving the news: The two music stations have similar formats, but WDRV-FM plays more classic rock to the softer jams broadcast down the dial on WLIT-FM.

Flashback: Even with this month's drop, WLIT-FM has had a tremendous year beyond its usual surge during the winter months when it goes all-holiday-music.

  • The holiday takeover starts next month, so expect the Lite to reclaim the top spot.

Biggest jump: The other adult contemporary stalwart, WTMX-FM, or "The Mix," saw substantial gains, pushing them closer to the top five.

  • News/talk stations WBBM-AM and WGN-AM did well in September.

Biggest tumble: WXRT-FM dropped again, but is still among the top stations.

Zoom out: There are many reasons for ratings to fluctuate month to month, according to former Chicago radio programmer Todd Manley. Seasonal listening patterns, cultural events and even who is being surveyed may have an impact.

  • "The ratings panelists (people meter participants) may have changed, meaning a station lost or gained a heavy user," Manley tells Axios.

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

  • Full disclosure: Justin has worked for a number of these stations.

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