All is not well in the world of North Dakota’s left-wing talk radio. Fargo-based KFGO – home to liberal talkers Joel Heitkamp and Mike McFeely – shows a continued ratings decline in the most recently released ratings book.
The reporting on the most recent ratings for the Fargo market laud KFGO as having a dominant share of listeners, which is certainly true, but if you add some historical context you begin to see why some at that radio station might have cause for concern:
It’s worth keeping in mind that ratings for stations heavy on political programming, which describes KFGO, tend to be cyclical. You would expect ratings to be up during election years, and down during off years. But KFGO took a dive in its market share in 2013, and despite a recovery coinciding with the 2014 election cycle, they’ve not yet regained their previous level of dominance.
In fact, I don’t think there’s any way to look at that trendline other than as three-year decline.
What’s more, I’m told by someone who has seen the more in-depth numbers which aren’t released to the public that these top level numbers are deceiving. “Their share is heavy on people over the age of 55,” my source told me. In the much more important and lucrative age 25-54 demographic, “they’re getting slaughtered.”
A declining, aging audience is not an ingredient for broadcast success I would think. These topline numbers the public gets generally aren’t seen as very important by broadcast insiders. They’re much more focused on specific demographics which are the basis of their ad sales. It would seem as though behind the scenes things may be even worse for KFGO than what we’re seeing publicly.
Among the other Fargo-based talk stations, WDAY AM970 has an upward ratings trend since the Fall 2013 book while WZFG AM1100 isn’t listed (I’m told this is because they don’t subscribe to the ratings book).
Meanwhile, in Bismarck KFYR – home to conservative talker Scott Hennen – is also seeing an upward trend in their ratings though they’re still below their Fall 2013 market share.
Here are the full numbers.