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KRQ, Vibe big radio winners, KIIM's tumble continues

The KIIM FM ratings downturn may not have been a blip after all. For the better part of 20 years, the market's country music juggernaut dominated quarterly ratings. While its overall 12-plus numbers placed the station second in the market, KIIM's 6.8 share for the spring 2015 ratings period was down from its bad winter book of 2015, and the country format took some significant key hits in major demo categories.

Among adults 25-54, an important focus demo for advertisers, the Cumulus-owned signal tied for fourth alongside sister station KHYT 107.5 FM. The Max and Shannon morning show placed fifth in the market in that same demo, down overall from the last book. Further, while it placed third among women in the same demo, overall numbers tumbled from 8.6 to 6.4. Numbers for men in the same demo were down as well.

Meanwhile, iHeartRadio top-40 station KRQ 93.7 FM controlled the market again. Its 12-plus rating was an 8.4 while it easily won among adults 25-54. However, Scripps station KMXZ Mix 94.9 FM led the way among women in that demo during morning drive while classic rocker KLPX 96.1 FM nailed its target demo of men 25-54 to lead the way in that category. KRQ won overall because it had better balance among both. Mix and KLPX were second and third among 25-54 listeners, respectively. Those are some of the best numbers the Lotus-owned classic rocker has delivered in quite some time.

Among other market standouts, Cumulus' decision to flip formats on 97.5 from top 40 to hip-hop has paid immediate dividends. The classic hip-hop format doubled its numbers after just one month included in the ratings period. Whether The Vibe, which has gotten significant social media word of mouth, ever moves any higher remains to be seen, but it's much better to have a station that consistently delivers 3 shares than one mired below 2.

The Vibe's initial success is indicative of a paradoxical situation within the Cumulus building. That cluster's local philosophy has always been about protecting KIIM's brand recognition and dominance, often at the expense of the overall progress of other stations in the building. Now, however, Cumulus Tucson is lucky other stations are performing well during a period where KIIM is clearly struggling. In addition to The Vibe's significant improvement, classic hits format KHYT 107.5 FM continues to deliver good numbers and sports talker KCUB 1290 AM remains the market's top-rated station in that category.

Lotus had a strong book across the board. In addition to KLPX, new-rock format KFMA 102.1 FM jumped from an overall 12-plus of 2.4 to a 3.7 in the latest book. KCMT FM 92.1 remains the market's Spanish language music leader while sister station KTKT 990 AM/94.3 FM continued its significant upward trend in its second book as a classic Spanish language music format. Further, KTKT's syndicated morning show bested KCMT by a tenth of a point.

Scripps music stations did well. Mix was No. 2 overall in the market and ranked in the top five in numerous important demos, including top spots among women. KTGV FM 106.3 continues to gain traction as well. At this pace, The Groove will crack the top 10 by the next book.

But Scripps talk stations continue to struggle. Even though talk numbers dipped significantly, most notably at KNST AM 790 when compared to the previous book, it still far outpaced KQTH 104.1 FM. ESPN sports talker KFFN 1490 AM/104.9 FM remains stalled. On the surface it might seem losing half the format's syndicated lineup as part of last week's ESPN upheaval could be problematic, but really, 1490 can't decline much further as it is.

LPFM wants your help

After nearly four-and-a-half arduous years, Jason LeValley's dream of launching a low power FM signal in downtown Tucson is about to become a reality.

But one more significant step looms. LeValley and his Downtown Radio mates are hoping to raise $4,045 to finalize payment on the transmitter.

The effort is off to a good start. Eleven days into their 30-day indiegogo.com fundraising drive (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-launch-downtown-radio-in-tucson#/story), the organization has already received more than $2,000 in pledges.

"Corporate radio stinks," proclaims LeValley in his indiegogo mission statement. "They play the same songs over and over again and don't care about anything but making money. Our DJs care about the music and the community. We want to give exposure to great artists, including local ones, that many people have not yet heard."

LeValley also wants to use the LPFM platform (the station, located at 99.1 FM, will have a limited broadcast radius, but cover downtown, the UA and points slightly beyond) to enhance awareness efforts related to mental health.

"We want to reduce the stigma associated with getting treatment for emotional and mental health issues," LeValley says in the indiegogo mission statement. "Everyone has physical ailments from time to time and most people will go to the doctor or seek some type of medical treatment. Well, everyone has emotional or mental health issues from time to time, too. So why should people be ashamed to talk about or seek help for these types of issues? We want to help!"

Downtown Radio is offering a variety of perks depending on contribution level, from stickers and download cards to a plaque with the donor's name in the studio to the chance to have a local band play at the contributor's home.

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