WERQ leads radio-station ratings

THE BALTIMORE SUN

There's a new king of the hill on Baltimore radio, and the folks at WERQ-FM (92.3) are pretty thrilled with the view.

The Arbitron ratings for fall 1996, released last week, have 92-Q atop the heap with a 7.7 rating, which translates to some 27,700 listeners in an average quarter-hour -- roughly 1,100 more listeners than second-place WBAL-AM (1090) and 4,300 more than WPOC-FM (93.1) and WQSR-FM (105.7), which were tied for third.

92-Q's prominence marks the first time in more than five years that either WBAL or WPOC has not topped the ratings. And it marks the summit of a steady climb for a station that was mired in eighth place in winter '93, with barely half as many listeners as it has today.

"We're getting ready to have a big celebration down in the conference room," station general manager Pam Somers said Thursday. "We're not surprised, because 92-Q has been trending very strong, and the feedback we've been getting has been very positive. But obviously we're very pleased."

WERQ, one of four Baltimore stations owned by Cathy Hughes' Radio One network, steadily increased its audience not through any miracle, but by relying on the tried-and-true methods:

maintaining a strong community presence, playing the right music (urban contemporary) and hiring on-air personalities with whom the audience can identify. Somers, who took over as GM just two weeks ago, credits program director Tom Calococci with energizing the station and pushing it to the top.

"Tom has truly turned WERQ into the 'Q-munity' station," she says. "Not only does 92-Q play the music the community wants to hear, but it is involved in community efforts. I think the station has become known as a friend."

Calococci, who was hired by the station in March, said the only thing surprising about 92-Q's rise to preeminence is how quickly it all happened.

"One thing, we got very lucky and were able to secure the services of Frank Ski, who has spent 10 years in Baltimore radio and is a local legend," he said. Ski joined WERQ last summer.

For the three-month ratings period just ended, WERQ's morning team of Ski and Miss Tony ranked third, behind WQSR's Rouse & Co. and WBAL's morning programming.

By the numbers

For all you rabid ratings readers, here are the Fall '96 Arbitron rankings and audience share for listeners 12 and older for Baltimore's Top 10 radio stations.

Each share represents about 3,600 listeners in an average quarter-hour.

1. WERQ, 7.7

2. WBAL, 7.3

3 (tie). WPOC and WQSR, 6.5

5. WLIF-FM (101.9), 6.4

6. WWMX-FM (106.5), 6.1

7. WHFS-FM (99.1), 4.2

8. WXYV-FM (102.7), 3.8

9. WWIN-FM (95.9), 3.2

A5 10 (tie). WIYY-FM (97.9) and WOCT-FM (104.3), 3.1

Love on ice

Just dying to exchange wedding vows atop frozen water, in front of a few hundred people on Valentine's Day?

Not me, but if you are -- whether you're planning to get or already are married -- then get in touch with the folks at WLIF-FM.

At noon Feb. 14, Lite-102 will play host to a "Wedding on Ice" at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink. The station will provide music, flowers, justice of the peace (this would be a real wedding, not a stunt) and even a post-ceremony wedding cake.

Couples must have a valid city marriage license (although those already married are welcome to renew their vows).

If you're interested (by the way, you won't have to wear skates), call WLIF at (410) 823-1570.

Earmuffs and snowshoes will be optional.

Fund-drive volunteers

WJHU-FM (88.1) is looking for a few good listeners to answer phones during its next on-air fund drive. If interested (and available for a three-hour shift), give the station a call at (410) 516-1926.

Madonna, back when

Before she was a mom. Before she was a big-time movie diva. Before she was a candidate for the cover of Ladies Home Journal.

Remember when Madonna was really Madonna? MTV does, and invites all to relive those (place your favorite adjective here) days at 10: 30 tonight with "Madonna Raw -- The Early Years, 1983-1985."

The show, an episode of the weekly "MTV News Presents"

showcase, will feature vintage interview clips tracing her career from the first hit single, "Borderline," to her performance of "Like A Virgin" at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards.

Jackson and Gingrich

Newt Gingrich will chat with Jesse Jackson on today's fifth-anniversary edition of "Both Sides With Jesse Jackson." The show is scheduled for 5: 30 p.m. on CNN.

Pub Date: 1/12/97

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