KLAX-FM's Ricardo 'El Mandril' Sanchez tops in morning radio

The new top banana in local morning radio, Ricardo "El Mandril" Sanchez of regional Mexican music station KLAX-FM (97.9), not only held onto No. 1 in July but also widened his lead in the Los Angeles-Orange County ratings, according to figures released Monday by Arbitron.

Sanchez grabbed 5.9% of the listening audience from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays, far ahead of talk station KFI-AM (640), which airs Bill Handel's local program and the first hour of Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated show during that period, and Kevin Ryder and Gene "Bean" Baxter on alternative rock station KROQ-FM (106.7). They tied for second with a 4.7% audience share.


In June, by comparison, Sanchez claimed 5.3% of listeners, while the KFI programs took 5%.

Meanwhile, in the overall station rankings, KBIG-FM (104.3) and KIIS-FM (102.7) continued their battle for the top spot, with the former edging out its Top 40 sister station this time around.

Based on the survey of listeners that Arbitron labels July (but which actually ran from June 20-July 17), KBIG — which features pop and rock artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Coldplay and Kid Rock — snagged a 5.4% share of the listening audience age 6 and older, while KIIS took 5.3%.

The two stations had tied for first in May and June, with 5.6% audience shares throughout. KBIG was alone on top in April, the first time the station had led after more than a year of nipping at the heels of KIIS.

Pop station KAMP-FM (97.1) placed third in July with 4.6%, while adult-contemporary station KOST-FM (103.5) and hip-hop station KPWR-FM (105.9) rounded out the top five at 4.5% and 4.4%, respectively.

KFI had been in and around fourth place for most of the year but in July fell to 12th overall, at 3.1%.

In the battle among morning shows, Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, on regional Mexican music station KSCA-FM (101.9), placed fourth in his final month on the air, capturing 4.3% of the audience. The station's parent company, Univision Communications Inc., canceled his show without explanation July 22.

The KIIS morning show, which features Ryan Seacrest and co-host Ellen K, placed fifth in July at 4.1%.

Sanchez, who had been in fourth place in May and as low as seventh in April, told PBS that he took his nickname after someone said he reminded them of Rafiki, the clever baboon in "The Lion King." KLAX hired him away from a station in Tijuana in 2002; from there he took over the morning show at rival KBUE- FM (105.5) before returning to KLAX, one of 25 stations nationwide that carries his show.