Sister stations KIIS-FM (102.7) and KBIG-FM (104.3) edged into a tie for first place in radio ratings for May, just a month after KBIG had grabbed sole possession of the top spot for the first time, according to figures released Monday by Arbitron.
KBIG, the pop and rock station whose claim is "more variety from the '90s till now," had been No. 1 in April among Los Angeles-Orange County stations, after many months of either tying or lurking just behind top 40 outlet KIIS, the longtime ratings leader. But they tied again in the May ratings period, each with a 5.6% share of the audience, based on the survey of listeners from April 25 to May 22.
Both stations distanced themselves from the pack, each increasing its share of the listening audience age 6 and older, jumping from 5.4% in April for KIIS and 5.5% for KBIG.
Third-place KOST-FM (103.5), the soft rock station, dipped from 4.7% in April to 4.5% in May.
KIIS rival KAMP-FM (97.1) and talk station KFI-AM (640) had been tied for fourth in April at 4.1%. But KAMP jumped ahead to 4.3%, while KFI slipped into a tie for fifth in May, at 3.8% alongside hip-hop station KPWR-FM (105.9).
KIIS, KBIG and KOST are all owned by Clear Channel, the nation's largest radio chain, which also controls five other stations in the Los Angeles market. And with overlapping playlists on those top three stations that span from newly minted pop hit to '70s soft rock stalwarts, they can cast a wide net and capture listeners from the teens through middle age.
While KBIG mixes older songs among the new, playing 2001's "Hanging by a Moment" by Lifehouse alongside the latest from Taylor Swift, KOST sprinkles in some new with the old, playing Bruno Mars and Maroon 5 alongside Elton John, Phil Collins and Pat Benatar. KIIS, meanwhile, hitches its star to chart-toppers Icona Pop and Pitbull, but also features some indie artists such as the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons — just like KBIG.
And for the trio of stations, the results of their broad-based aural attraction show in their audience figures: In May, all three surpassed 3 million listeners, with KIIS the leader at 3.95 million individuals who tuned in for least five minutes per week. The only other station to break that threshold was KAMP, at 3.21 million; the next closest was KPWR at 2.84 million.
During weekday morning drive — long thought to be radio's most important time slot, when stations can attract and hold listeners for the rest of the day — KIIS moved into a tie with KFI, with both claiming a 5.1% audience share.
From 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays, KFI features local host Bill Handel's program, followed by the first hour of Rush Limbaugh's national show, and that pairing has had a near-stranglehold on the top spot for more than four years. But lately, other stations have challenged that supremacy. Before 2013, only three times did KFI's pairing not lead the morning ratings; already in 2013 it's been defeated twice and tied once, this past month.
In May, KIIS — which features Ryan Seacrest and co-host Ellen K in the morning — jumped from third place, past alternative rock station KROQ-FM (106.7), whose Kevin Ryder and Gene "Bean" Baxter slipped from 5.2% to 5%.
The morning show at regional Mexican music station KLAX-FM (97.9), featuring Ricardo "El Mandril" Sanchez, rebounded from a seventh-place showing in April to take fourth at 4.6%. KBIG, with Sean Valentine and Liz Hernandez in the morning, rounded out the T top five at 4.5%, and Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo on regional Mexican music station KSCA-FM (101.9) dropped from fifth to sixth, although he increased his audience share from 4.1% to 4.3%.
Though it slipped last month in the morning, KBIG took control of middays Monday through Friday. The station that in the early 2000s called itself "your upbeat listen-at-work station" has once again invaded that territory.
KBIG's midday ratings languished in 14th place at 2.7% as recently as November 2011. KOST had long resided at or near the top of the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ratings, except for the time around the November 2012 election when KFI took the lead. KIIS has also raced ahead occasionally. Since early 2012, KBIG shadowed just behind, or edged into a slight lead — such as in March, when it led KOST 5.7% to 5.5%. But last month KBIG surged past the others, claiming 5.7% of the listening audience and leaving KOST far behind at 4.9%.