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WERQ-FM dominates ratings; Radio: 92-Q is on top as WBAL-AM drops to its lowest ranking in years.; Radio and Television

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WERQ-FM (92.3) seems to be weathering the departure of the enormously popular Frank Ski just fine, thank you, while WBAL-AM (1090) dropped to its lowest ranking in years, according to Baltimore radio ratings for the last quarter of 1998.

For the fifth straight quarter, 92-Q finished atop the heap, with a 9.6 share (each ratings point translates to about 3,600 listeners in an average quarter hour). Up one-tenth of a point from last quarter, WERQ continues to dominate, finishing a full 2.8 points (better than 10,000 listeners) ahead of second-place WPOC-FM (93.1). Third-place went to WWMX-FM (106.5), which climbed all the way up from sixth.

Its fourth-place finish marks the first time WBAL has finished outside the top three -- and the first time its audience share has fallen below 6 (to 5.9) -- in at least six years. And the fifth-place finish for WQSR-FM (105.7) continues a disturbing trend for that station, which as recently as the last quarter of 1997 finished second, with a 7.2 share. For the first three quarters of 1998, it finished fifth (5.5), fourth (6.1) and fourth (5.8).

For all of you completists out there, here are the Fall 1998 Arbitron rankings and audience share for listeners 12 and older for Baltimore's top 10 radio stations.

1. WERQ-FM (92.3), 9.6

2. WPOC-FM (93.1), 6.8

3. WWMX-FM (106.5), 6.0

4. WBAL-AM (1090), 5.9

5. WQSR-FM (105.7), 5.6

6. WWIN-FM (95.9), 5.5

7. WLIF-FM (101.9), 4.9

8. WIYY-FM (97.9), 4.3

9. WHFS-FM (99.1), 3.6

10. WXYV-FM (102.7), 3.5

Football to the max

Comcast customers who want more football this weekend than even the Super Bowl can provide should check out the "Comcast Super Tailgate Weekend," airing from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday on channel 69 in Baltimore County, 66 in Harford County and 54 in Howard County.

The Comcast programming will feature coverage of the NFL Experience theme park in Miami, as well as activities at other sites throughout southern Florida. Among the offerings: the NFL Celebrity Softball Contest, NFL Passion for Fashion, Taste of the NFL, Celebrity Cookoff and the Playstation Players' Party.

Un-football offerings

A few alternatives, for those yearning to watch something other than football Sunday:

AMC is going straight for the tear ducts with what it's calling "Superbawl Sunday."

The seven-film crying jag begins at 6 a.m., with Marlon Brando, Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki (the latter two won Supporting Actor and Actress Oscars) in "Sayonara" (1957), the tale of a Korean War pilot who falls in love with a Japanese entertainer.

At 8: 30 a.m., Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page fall for each other in "Dear Heart" (1964). And at 10: 30 a.m., Gregory Peck struggles to get his life together in "The Man In the Gray Flannel Suit" (1956), followed by Lana Turner in "Imitation of Life" (1959) at 1: 15 p.m.

At 6 p.m., it's Rock Hudson reunited with the wife he thought was dead in "Never Say Goodbye" (1956), followed at 8: 05 p.m. by William Holden and Jennifer Jones in "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" (1955).

The emotionfest concludes at 10 p.m. with Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn in "Love In the Afternoon."

If food is more your style (especially if you're looking for recipes good enough to eat during the big game), the Food Network has all sorts of goodies planned.

At 11 a.m., "Michael's Place" has a Sunday Morning Touch Football Breakfast planned, followed by "Too Hot Tamales" (11: 330 a.m.) with a burrito party, "Taste" (noon) with buffalo chicken wings, "Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay" (12: 30 p.m.), showcasing turkey burgers with brie and grilled apples, and "Emeril Live!" with a Super Bowl cocktail buffet.

If halftime shows are your bane, how does wrasslin' sound as an alternative?

USA has scheduled a "unique" WWF championship match, to begin as soon as halftime begins and end as soon as it ends. (How do they know it will last exactly 20 minutes? I guess they just do.)

In a rematch, recently deposed WWF champion Mankind will go up against The Rock, who recently won the belt under suspicious circumstances.

And, for the 10th year running, TBS will offer a marathon visit to Mayberry.

This year, the offerings go 'round the clock, as "24 Hours of Andy," beginning at 6 a.m. Sunday, showcases 43 classic episodes.

Among the best: "Aunt Bee the Warden" (9: 31 a.m.), with Aunt Bee almost reforming town drunk Otis; "Citizen's Arrest" (11: 35 a.m.), with Gomer arresting Barney for an illegal U-turn; "Opie the Birdman" (7: 37 p.m.), with Opie raising an orphan bird; and "Ernest T. Bass Joins the Army" (3: 28 a.m.), with a title that's pretty much self-explanatory.

Noggin, for thinkers

Nickelodeon's march to dominate children's TV moves forward Monday with the debut of Noggin, a cable network teaming Nick with the Children's Television Workshop.

Billed as the first 24-hour kids' "thinking channel," Noggin will feature original programming as well as such CTW and Nickelodeon shows as "Blue's Clues" and "Sesame Street."

The network will also have an online site (http: //www.noggin.com), enabling kids to interact with their favorite shows and access related materials.

"The goal is to make entertainment educational, rather than make education entertaining," said Dan Martinsen, a spokesman for Nickelodeon. The focus from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be preschoolers, shifting to kids 6-12 years old in the afternoon. Evening shows will be aimed at a more general audience.

None of the cable providers in the Baltimore area have signed on to distribute the network, but that could change if viewer demand becomes strong enough.

Noggin's debut should help solidify Nickelodeon's hold on children's programming. During November sweeps, Nick's "Nicktoons TV" was the most-watched programming block on Saturday mornings, finishing 24 percent ahead of ABC's morning kid shows, which were second.

Let's talk lacrosse

Lacrosse fans, take note: "Lax Talk," featuring Gordon Boone and former Hopkins All-American Quint Kessinich, can now be heard Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon on Nasty Nestor Aparicio's all-sports station, WKDB-AM (1570).

Wire services contributed to this article.

TV's top shows

Here are last week's top TV shows, according to A. C. Nielsen Co. figures:, Rating

1 ER NBC 21.3

2 Friends NBC 16.8

3 Frasier NBC 16.5

4 Golden Globe Awards NBC 16.1

5 Jesse NBC 14.4

6 Veronica's Closet NBC 14.2

7 60 Minutes CBS 13.5

8 Everybody Loves Raymond CBS 12.5

9 Becker CBS 11.2

10 Ally McBeal Fox 11.1

11 Providence NBC 10.7

12 20/20-Friday ABC 10.5

13 Sunday Movie: Outlaw Justice CBS 10.4 13 (tie) Dateline Wednesday NBC 10.4

15 The King of Queens CBS 10.2

15 (tie) L.A. Doctors NBC 10.2

17 The Drew Carey Show ABC 10.1

18 Cosby CBS 10.0

18 (tie) Touched by an Angel CBS 10.0

20 60 Minutes II CBS 9.9

20 (tie) Home Improvement ABC 9.9

The rating is the percentage of homes equipped with a TV in use.

Wire services contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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