May 30, 2024 - Business

The Drive grabs the top spot in Chicago radio ratings

The bar chart displays the Nielsen ratings for top Chicago-area radio stations in April 2024, with WDRV-FM leading with a 6.2 share.
Data: Radio Online; Chart: Axios Visuals

For the first time in over a year, a new radio station has broken the adult-contemporary stranglehold at the top of the Chicago radio charts.

The big picture: WDRV (The Drive) surged ahead of WLIT (The Lite) in April ratings, ending a remarkable years-long run for The Lite.

Winners: Besides The Drive, Univision owned WOJO-FM (Regional Mexican) gained almost a full point (5.2) and jumped into the top five.

Losers: Radio employees. Both WBBM and WBEZ laid off employees in April. WBEZ also accepted three voluntary buyouts from staff last week.

What they're saying: "While we have eliminated roles where programming was not sustained by its revenue generation, we have increased the size of the Sun-Times newsroom," Chicago Public Media CEO Matt Moog said in a statement. CPM owns WBEZ and the Sun-Times.

  • "CPM is investing where its audiences are growing in the interest of the organization's long-term sustainability."

What we're hearing: Veteran staffers are pushing back against Moog's strategy, worrying about the future direction of the public media company.

Reality check: This week, CPM ended the Vocalo broadcast on 91.1FM. WBEZ still languishes in 18th place (2.0).

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

Disclosure: Justin Kaufmann has worked for a number of these stations.

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