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Public radio keeps its place in ratings

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

By Adrian McCoy

Commercial radio lives and dies by ratings, but what about public radio? Most public stations don't have the financial resources to track how many people are tuned in, but Arbitron ratings indicate that public radio stations -- here at least -- are holding their own.

The Radio Research Consortium collects Arbitron data for public radio stations, giving them access to the same kinds of data commercial stations use. Among total listeners in the most recent survey period -- fall 2001 -- jazz/NPR station WDUQ-FM (90.5) led the pack with a 2.7 share, followed by classical WQED-FM (89.3) with 1.9 and adult alternative WYEP-FM (91.3) with 1.3. While none would rank among the top 10 commercial stations, all three fall within the top 20.

WDUQ listeners fall mainly in the 35- to 44-year-old and 45- to 55-year-old age groups. WYEP gets more listeners on the younger end, and WQED on the older end of the spectrum.

Radio awards

The A.I.R. (Achievement in Radio) Awards, a local rite of spring in the radio community, are being moved to fall this year. The A.I.R. awards recognize local radio talent, programming and commercials, and proceeds from the annual event benefit the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

The event is being moved to October or early November. March of Dimes director of communications Michele Frennier said the decision brings the local ceremony into line with other cities, where A.I.R. awards are typically held in the fall.

Going and coming

A longtime figure in local radio is moving on. Bob Roof has left the Pittsburgh market for a job as market manager for Cumulus Broadcasting's stations in Youngstown and Canton, Ohio; and Sharon, Mercer County. Roof joined WDVE-FM (102.5) as general manager in 1987 and was part of a team credited with building the album rock station into a market leader.

"Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher may be the next to jump into talk radio. The New York Post reports that Maher is seriously considering a syndicated radio talk show if "Politically Incorrect" is canceled later this year.

A banner is forever

KDKA-AM (1020) traditionally gives some couple a huge Valentine -- in the shape of message on a banner suspended across Gateway Center.

This year's winner took things to a new level. Jim Kerr of Baldwin used the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend live on morning drive. Joanne Augustine of West Newton thought she was coming Downtown for breakfast and instead was shown the banner, which popped the question. She accepted the proposal live on the air during Larry Richert's morning show.

Adrian McCoy covers radio for the Post-Gazette.

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