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Country still king; KSSN remains no. 1 in ratings, but KDDK rises quickly in area.

KSSN-FM, 95.7, THE NO. 1 radio station in the Little Rock area for several years, retained that position in the Spring 1993 Arbitron Co. ratings.

KSSN has a 17.2 share for listeners 12 and over, which means 17.2 percent of all listeners 12 and older are tuned in to KSSN at any specific time.

That is down from the 20.9 share KSSN had in the Spring 1992 ratings, but it still considerably outdistances any other station in the area. KIPR-FM, 92.3, is second with an 11.3 share.

KSSN is being pushed among country listeners by KDDK-FM, 100.3, which recorded a 10.5 rating. KDDK, owned by Galaxy Broadcasting Corp. and licensed to Jacksonville, didn't go on the air until July 1992.

"KSSN is still No. 1, though, and they are a long way from being in trouble," says one media insider who asked not to be named. "But for K-Duck to be where it is, and they weren't even on the air last year, that is an amazing success story.

"What this means, though, is that every station below the top five is hurting. The top five accounts for 51 percent of the audience."

Galaxy Broadcasting operated soft adult contemporary KEZQ-FM, 100.3, until last year. Last summer the company purchased KIKX-FM, 102.9, which was struggling with a country format.

KEZQ, which was sold to Omni Broadcasting, moved to 102.9 and KDDK was born at 100.3 megahertz. A taller antenna gave the new country outlet a stronger signal at KEZQ's former frequency.

"The new country |format~, which had been rising so dramatically in popularity across the nation, really was not being offered in this market," says Wally Tucker, general manager of KDDK, also known as K-Duck. "Obviously, there is always risk involved in a move like that.

"KEZQ had been a traditionally strong station in the market and was doing well. But the potential, in terms of listenership and revenue with new country music, was so strong that we decided it was worth it."

Tucker defines "new country" as music developed by country artists over about the past three years -- singers such as Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire. He contrasts that to more traditional country music played on other stations with a broad-based following for listeners from teens to 50 and older.

More Country Listeners

Tucker and Jay Werth, general manager for KSSN, both emphasize that the country listening audience has increased in the last year.

In the Spring 1992 ratings, country stations accounted for a total share of 25.4. This year, KSSN and KDDK account for a total share of 27.7.

"We've got a very solid station and it's on target for us," Werth says of KSSN. "We've got great |on-air~ personalities like Bob Robbins and Jay Smith who have longevity in the marketplace. We're very optimistic about the future."

Denny Moore, general manager of KKYK-FM, 103.7, a contemporary rock station, disagrees that country audiences have grown.

Moore points out that the country music audience share has been as high as 28.4 for the Winter 1992 ratings. Only 0.0018 of the market's population, about 910 people, receives diaries from The Arbitron Co. to record their listening habits, Moore says.

He says the size of the audience for any format can vary dramatically, depending "on where the diaries land."

"I'll tell you this: Country has already peaked," Moore says. "Garth Brooks, Billy Ray Cyrus and Reba McEntire, around the country, aren't doing 70 percent of the numbers they did last summer."

KSSN owner Jerry Atchley recently acquired a Benton station and changed the call letters to KMVK-FM. The "Maverick," as it's known, also plays country music but targets a younger audience than KSSN.

"I think |KMVK~ is doing exactly what it was designed to do," Werth says. "That's based on telephone calls to the request line and reaction we've received. It's too early to tell about the ratings."

Tucker wouldn't specify how much K-Duck's increased rating will affect its revenues, but he did offer that KDDK now generates 50 percent more revenues on an annual basis than the combination of KDDK and KEZQ did last year.

It has been estimated that KEZQ, under Galaxy Broadcasting's ownership, had $1.1 million in billings in 1991. That could mean that KDDK's billings may reach $1.5 million this year.
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Title Annotation:ranking of radio stations in Arkansas
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 9, 1993
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