Liberal Talker Joel Heitkamp Continues Ratings Slide

Fargo radio talk show host Joel Heitkamp

The new ratings book is out for the Fargo/Moorhead market, so it’s time for an update on how the region’s talkers are doing.

And if you’re left-wing talker Joel Heitkamp – brother to U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp – things aren’t doing so good.

According to publicly available ratings for the 12-years-old and up demographic, KFGO is continuing a major decline in ratings which began in the Fall of 2012. Meanwhile WDAY, their biggest competitor in the market, is on an upward trend (I haven’t been tracking WDAY’s numbers for as long):

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For those of you keeping score at home, what you’re looking at is a more than 38 percent decline for KFGO’s 12+ rating since the Spring 2012 book. Comparing WDAY to KFGO directly, since the Spring 2014 book the former station has increased ratings more than 14 percent while KFGO has declined more than 16 percent.

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. The 12+ demographic is much more broad than talk radio’s core demographic which skews a bit older. I can’t provide specific numbers in those demographic breakdowns because the folks at Nielsen are very protective of that data, but I can give you the broad strokes based on the data shared with me.

…Heitkamp has seen his numbers in the 8:30-11:00am, Monday through Friday time slot decline 28 percent from the Fall 2014 book through Spring 2016.

In the age 35-64 demographic, KFGO saw its ratings decline 34 percent from the Fall 2014 to the Spring of 2016. The station fell from the #1 position in the market to #2.

In that same demographic and time window WDAY saw their ratings increase 46 percent. Their ranking went from #9 in the market to #3.

If we look at specific shows in that ratings demographic, Heitkamp has seen his numbers in the 8:30-11:00am, Monday through Friday time slot decline 28 percent from the Fall 2014 book through Spring 2016.

That same time slot for WDAY, which is currently filled by Heitkamp’s former KFGO colleague Mike McFeely (also a liberal host), ratings have increased 166 percent with most of it coming in the Spring 2016 book, a reflection on McFeely’s impact in the time slot.

Heitkamp has fallen from the #1 show in that time slot in the market to #2. McFeely is currently at #3 and hot on Heitkamp’s heels.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, my good friend Jay Thomas (who leans to the right) absolutely dominated. From the Fall 2014 book to the Spring 2016 book his ratings have increased more than 87 percent. He is ranked #2 in his time slot (behind one of the music stations, I believe).

Jay was up against host Dan Hammer at KFGO, but Hammer became the latest host to leave KFGO just recently, and I’m not sure who is permanent replacement will be over there. Regardless, KFGO’s 2-5pm ratings were in the tank.

You can check out the publicly available age 12+ ratings from Nielsen here. Unfortunately, as I mentioned previously, I can’t share the rest of the specifics with you due to Nielsen’s media rules.

Full disclosure: WDAY is owned by Forum Communications Company which also pays me to write columns and this blog and stuff. I also contribute (in a very small way) to the Jay Thomas Show and have guest hosted for WDAY’s other shows as well.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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