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As Baltimore goes, so goes the country


Baltimore radio listeners apparently fit into the American mainstream with their taste for country music but have a greater fondness for news/talk than the national average.

A national ratings analysis by the Katz Radio Group, as reported in the trade newsletter Inside Radio, shows country formats still easily led the national ratings over the winter period, commanding a 16.0 share (percentage) of all listeners 12 and older.

In the recently released winter ratings for Baltimore stations, Arbitron similarly ranked WPOC-FM (93.1) in the number one spot, although with a much lower share of 8.2.

But Baltimore's No. 2 station was news/talk WBAL-AM (1090), with a 7.7 share. And conservative voice WCBM-AM (680) also ranked in the top 10 here.

In the national survey, news/talk formats tied for fourth place, with a 7.9 share that was sharply increased from previous surveys.

Here are the top 10 rankings of formats across the country:

Country (16.0), full service (8.9), urban (8.3), adult contemporary (7.9), news/talk (7.9), Spanish (7.8), contemporary hit radio (7.6), adult-oriented rock (7.5), soft adult contemporary (6.7) and gold/oldies (5.2).

* Speaking of country music, listeners who live or travel west of Baltimore can find the sound on WFRE-FM (99.9) in Frederick.

The station's Danny O'Doherty says the November 1992 format switch from a light and easy sound has proven a big hit.

* The battle over big band stations in Baltimore has moved into the courts.

Capital Kids' Radio Company has filed a "complaint for specific performance" in Baltimore Circuit Court seeking an order that its contract to buy WITH-AM (1230) be executed. The action also seeks $500,000 in damages.

The suit contends that the station owner, the Profit Group Corporation of Florida headed by James McCotter, agreed to sell the station. Although approved by the FCC, the sale has not been consummated and the owner has failed to appear for two closing dates, the suit says.

"It's like a soap opera now," said Virginia Carson, partner with Lawrence Kessner in Capitol Kids' Radio, which plans to make WITH the third station (with outlets in Silver Spring and Northern Virginia) broadcasting a format aimed at elementary and middle school children.

"We are trying to get Mr. McCotter to the settlement table, because we very much want to buy that station. We have a contract," she said.

Mr. McCotter has told associates he makes a policy of not talking to the press.

In the meantime, said Ed Graham, a consultant hired by Mr. McCotter to operate WITH, the station's big band/nostalgia sound remains on the air.

And he has hired longtime Baltimore radio voice Jack Edwards to do a morning show beginning at 6 a.m. on Monday.

And the operators of WHLP-AM (1360), where most of the previous WITH staff moved a month ago to establish a new big band/nostalgia station, report the operation is out of its temporary garage housing and into a new studio at Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel.

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