WCBS-FM continues shedding its audience

August 3, 2005

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WCBS-FM continues shedding its audience

by Matthew Flamm

Jack FM, the new iPod shuffle-like radio format that replaced oldies music on WCBS-FM, received another bad report card.

A preliminary report from the Arbitron rating company shows WCBS-FM in 17th place among New York stations, with a 2.5 rating among listeners aged 12 and over. The ratings, covering the first month of the three-month summer survey period, mark a sharp drop in the number of listeners for the station since it switched to “Jack” in early June.

While the final ratings numbers covering the entire summer period could look very different from the preliminary report, experts say the trends do not look good for the once-thriving station.

“One thing’s for sure,” said Robert Unmacht, partner in the media consultancy iN3 Partners Inc., “WCBS-FM has ceased to be a major mover in New York radio.”

This is the second disappointing report in a row for the new format, which shuffles a wide variety of songs without the help of a live disc jockey. The spring Arbitron report, which included three weeks of the "Jack" format, showed the Infinity Broadcasting Corp. station dropping to 12th place from ninth, with a 3.0 rating.

Experts say that the final report might show higher ratings among young listeners even if the station's overall audience shrinks. Infinity launched “Jack” with the aim of attracting a younger audience.

©2005 Crain Communications Inc.

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