IdahoRadioNews: Spring ratings roundup

­More ups and downs in the Boise radio market – but one thing is clear: country ruled the day this spring.

Look – let’s just say something: people writing down what they listened to on the radio (or watched on TV) is a pretty ridiculous way to determine millions of dollars in ad spending in 2016… but it’s all we have.

With that in mind, let’s look at winners and losers in the spring Nielsen book for radio among people 12+.

KBOI-AM topped the ratings with a 6.4.

The first Wild Swing Award goes to KAWO/Wow Country 104.3 which doubled its ratings from last fall – popping from a 2.7 to a 5.8, and the number two spot in the ratings. The station has a new-ish morning show and it seems to be gelling with audiences.

In the number three spot is relative upstart KQBL/101.9 The Bull. The station popped to a 4.9 rating. The ratings snapshot happened before Kevin & Brenda Mee joined the station – which could help increase ratings even further for the station.

After KTHI/107.1 K-Hits in fourth place – comes another country station, KIZN/Kissin 92. Kissin also nearly doubled its rating from a 2.6 to a 4.7 in the spring book.

Just those three country stations account for a combined 15.4 rating. Lots of country lovers got ratings diaries this spring!

Elsewhere: In the pop war, KSAS/103.5 Kiss FM climbed back on top of KWYD/Wild 101. Wild won the fall, Kiss wins the spring with a sold 4.5 rating to Wild’s 4.0.

Among hot adult contemporary stations, KCIX/Mix 106 saw significant falloff from the fall after the exit of popular morning host Kate McGwire. Mix fell from a 5.0 to a 3.8. However, the station still topped competitor KZMG/My 102.7. KXLT/107.9 Lite FM dropped significantly as it usually does in the spring when Christmas music is long gone – from a 5.6 rating to a 4.0.

Something notable happened in the sports race: KTIK/The Ticket got knocked off the throne. The heritage sports station fell to KNFL/ESPN Boise in the ratings for the first time. In fact, KNFL beat both KTIK stations, combined by quite a bit. (1.4 for ESPN Boise versus a total of 1.0 for both KTIK AM & FM). KNFL added BJ Rains & Jay Tust from 9-11am and beefed up its local afternoon show – a formula that appears to be working.

If you look at the ratings by group, Scripps cemented its status as the lowest-rated cluster in the market. The Scripps stations saw slight growth from fall, but came in fourth place behind leader Townsquare, second-place finisher Cumulus, and Impact radio in third. The average rating for a Scripps station is just 3.325 – while the average Townsquare station brings an average of 4.22 points (and Townsquare has more stations).

Don Day is principal at Don Day Digital after a 17-year career in media. 

Race for radio mornings heats up amidst change

Music. Mornings. Marketing.

The old adage goes that if a radio station gets those three things right – it will be a success.

But in the Boise market, the morning daypart seems to be in perhaps the biggest state of disarray in quite some time.


  • Brenda Mee, center & Kevin Mee, left. Via
    Brenda Mee, center & Kevin Mee, left. Via

    Friday, KXLT/107.9 Lite FM parted ways with Kevin Mee and Brenda Mee. The pair joined Lite about two years ago after a decade-plus tenure at KIZN/Kissin’ 92.3. Somewhat surprisingly, KXLT won the 12+ radio ratings derby in the fall Nielsen Audio ratings book. (Fueled in part by the station’s Christmas music programming).

  • Kate McGwire recently left KCIX/Mix 106. McGwire was the strong, popular personality who helped drive Mix’s consistently solid ratings.
  • Several stations now run with no morning show (KQBL/92.7 The Alternative, KSRV/96.1 Bob FM, KXLT/107.9 Lite FM [for now at least], KJOT/Rock 105.1), a one-person show (KWYD/Wild 101, KZMG/My 102.7, KIDO/580 AM), or a syndicated national program (KKGL/96.9 The Eagle, KQFC/97.9 Nash FM).
  • KSAS/103.5 FM sometimes features a solo host in Michelle Heart, and sometimes features multiple hosts, adding in station program director Keke Luv and mid-day personality Tawsha Box. It tends to vary from day-to-day.
  • Of the local stations who do program a live, local, multi-personality program – many of them have seen upheaval. KAWO/Wow Country 104.3, KRVB/94.9 The River, KIZN/Kissin’ 92.3, KTHI/107.1 K-Hits and the aforementioned KCIX/Mix 106 have replaced one or both of their morning DJs in the past year or so.

There are some pockets of stability. Paul J. Schneider is the dean of Boise radio and has been hosting with his “new” partner Chris Walton for well-more than a decade at KBOI/670 AM. KQXR’s “Morning After” with Nic & Big J has been going strong for several years.

Also, two new stations have entered the morning game in somewhat non-traditional ways. KTIK/93.1 FM The Ticket re-entered the local morning show race after several years of syndicated programming with former Boise State RB Ian Johnson and Jake Hamar holding down the fort from 7-10am. KNFL/96.5 ESPN Boise is doing a sort-of work-day starting hybrid show from 9-11am with (friend and colleague) Jay Tust from KTVB and BJ Rains from the Idaho Press Tribune.

Bottom line: This daypart is very much in flux – and new shows or combinations of personalities will look for ways to stand out and draw audience. The first place the eyes of many media buyers and radio execs will go when the spring book comes out later this year is the morning show race in key demos – to see if all the changes make for a major swing in ratings points and dollars.

Don Day edited for more than five years. Now he tweets a lot.

Guess who’s back… back again

What’s old is new again.

Bob Rosenthal via LinkedIn profile
Bob Rosenthal via LinkedIn profile
Bob Rosenthal, director of sales at Cumulus Media Boise has decided to alter his commute a bit – and will step up to the role of VP/general manager at Scripps Boise radio.

If your cerebral cortex is lighting up – yes, Rosenthal has had this job before. The veteran Boise radio exec previously was general manager for Journal Broadcast Group’s Boise operations – both radio and TV – before leaving for Cumulus in 2010. Now, with Journal’s purchase by Scripps, he’ll be once again overseeing KJOT/Rock 105.1, KTHI/107.1 K-Hits, KRVB/94.9 The River and KQXR/100.3 The X – but will not be responsible for the sister TV operations in Nampa.

“I am honored to lead the Boise radio team forward and re-join a broadcast group that shares the same core values that I do,” Rosenthal said in a prepared statement. “I especially see the tremendous opportunities in working closely with our sister TV station, KIVI-TV, to partner on projects that benefit our audiences, advertisers and the Boise community.”

Rosenthal re-inherits a quartet of stations which have seen generally under-performing results of late. Scripps’ top-performing station only posted results good enough for 7th place in the 12+ (107.1 K-Hits). Beyond that, The River ranked 10th, The X ranked 17th and Rock 105.1 ranked 18th.

Rosenthal is also the voice behind the famous “Annnnd that’s another Bronco…” (FIRST DOWN!) chant at Albertsons Stadium for Boise State football.

Don Day edited for more than five years. Now he tweets a lot.

Void left in Kate McGwire’s wake

KCIX/Mix 106 today formally announced what I reported last week – popular morning co-host Kate McGwire has decided to leave her spot behind the mic behind for a new, as-yet-undetermined future.

McGwire came to the market nearly 15 years ago and teamed with Boise radio fixture Mike Kasper at KZMG/Magic 93.1. After establishing a foothold at the pop station, the pair segued to Mix where they’ve held forth ever since.

mike-kate-et-alDespite a few ups and downs in the ratings, the pair have proved popular – driven by the chemistry between Mike & Kate and a strong marketing push.

I’ve been observing this market for years. I can only think of a few folks who have resonated to the level Kate has. In 2008, the station ran a contest that had people so concerned about Kate, they called police dispatch to try and help. Really.

In the latest ratings, KCIX was the top FM station not playing Christmas music among those 12+. Though I haven’t seen them in quite a while, the morning numbers for KCIX are always excellent. I’m not sure there’s anyone else in the market whose departure from radio could make such big waves.

This change will send listeners spinning around the dial a bit. KZMG/My 102.7 FM saw very strong ratings in that same ratings report and could benefit. Usually, KSAS/103.5 Kiss FM would be an obvious beneficiary, but has been running without popular host Keke Luv on the morning show for long stretches – including several months this summer, and again since before Christmas. Many could spin off to Pandora or Apple Music or Spotify.

Townsquare told the paper they hope to have a new co-host in place within a month. Whoever sits down in the Mix studio each morning will have big shoes to fill (though as they noted on the air this morning, Kate has small feet… so maybe there’s a better analogy out there).

Don Day edited for more than five years. Now he tweets a lot.

Boise radio gets an ‘Alternative’

KQBL/92.7 The AlternativeThe Boise radio dial seems to be in continuous expansion mode. Much of that growth is coming from Impact Radio Group – the Idaho-owned company that has undergone a complete transformation in recent years.

Sunday, Impact launched 92.7 The Alternative – giving the group its sixth format in the main Boise market*¹.

92.7 FM is broadcasting an alternative rock format – featuring artists like Nirvana, Coldpay, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. I even heard a track from an artist I didn’t recognize – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (thanks, Siri).

You might remember that Impact previously had an alternative station of sorts, originally known as 99.1 The Virus. The group later shortened the name to V-99.1, before dropping the format entirely and trying something else in its place (99.1 FM eventually moved to the Twin Falls market). Here’s a YouTube clip of a TV spot for V:

When the station died, it held onto its Facebook page, and even hinted at the time that it might come back some day.

In recent weeks, posts started to pop up on the mostly dormant page hinting at a revival. Then Sunday, a post confirmed the revival, albeit under a new name and tweaked format.

The station will go up against heritage alternative station KQXR/100.3 The X, much as V-99.1 FM did. Impact GM Darrell Calton says V was “pretty wide open,” in terms of playlist. The Alternative will stick more to a traditional alternative-type format in its attempt to grab ratings in the market. In the spring, KQXR was the fifth-highest rated station in the market among those 12 and older.

Calton tells me that engineering crews have been working for several weeks to get not one but two frequencies tuned and ready to go – both aimed at launching the new station.

In addition to 92.7 – which is intended as a translator station and licensed to Horseshoe Bend, Impact has launched HD radio on KQBL/101.9 FM. This is the first fully functioning commercial HD station in the market*², and gives the group the ability to launch the new frequency for all — and upgrade the quality for others.

Here’s how it works:
92.7 will be the “primary” station for consumers, as you would guess, for something called Alternative 92.7. However, using a 2010 FCC decision, 92.7 FM is actually a translator that “rebroadcasts” from a multicast channel that lives at 101.9-3 FM. From the FCC’s perspective, 101.9-3 is really this new Alternative station’s “home,” but Impact is able to jump through some governmental hoops to get it on to 92.7 FM so everyone can hear.

Why does this matter? Most folks still don’t have HD radios – especially in any place but their cars. In vehicles, about 200 makes come with HD radios standard – but you might still buy a brand new car without the technology. For those that do have an HD radio, they’ll be mapped over to 101.9-3 automatically and will generally get a clearer, sharper signal.

Impact is also utilizing this trick for its existing 96.5 ESPN Boise station. The sports talker will be on 101.9-2 with a rebroadcast on the existing 96.5 FM translator (which had previously been rebroadcasting an AM transmitter, essentially).

Impact now has a full cluster of stations serving Boise – including KWYD/Wild 101 FM (now with its own booster translator in Boise at 101.5), KZMG/My 102.7, KSRV/96.1 Bob FM, KNFL/96.5 ESPN Boise, KQBL/101.9 The Bull — and KQBL/92.7 The Alternative.

*¹ = Impact also operates KSRV-AM/Oldies 1380 AM which is focused primarily on the Ontario part of the area.
*² = Scripps’ KRVB/94.9 The River also went HD this past week, though for now it is not promoting this fact nor is it utilizing any multicast subchannels. In addition, Boise State Public Radio has been broadcasting in HD for some time, but it’s not a commercial station.

Don Day was the editor of for a jillion years about a jillion years ago. He’s also the digital sales and product manager for KTVB Digital.