Keeping Track of Jack, Bob and Pals

A Switch To Adult Hits Still Means Bigger Audiences For Most Stations In Radio’s Newest Format, According To the Latest Arbitron And Edison Media Research Study
jackbobstudy.pngNearly three years after the debut of Adult Hits, most radio stations that have adopted radio’s newest format are still showing audience gains over what their previous programming delivered, according to a new study by Arbitron Inc. and Edison Media Research.
At least of half of Adult Hits stations have also defied the conventional wisdom that the audience for any oldies-based format has nowhere to go but down after any initial peak in audience.
“Adult Hits 2006: Keeping Track Of Jack, Bob and Pals” is a follow-up study by Arbitron and Edison Media Research to 2005’s “Adult Hits: Early Look at the Numbers Driving Radio’s Newest Format.” The updated study looks at 38 Adult Hits stations that have been with the format for at least three quarterly Arbitron ratings reports, including one station that switched to the format in late 2003.

* In terms of station performance since embracing the Adult Hits format, 15 were up among 25-54 year olds in the winter ’06 ratings, 22 were down and one was flat.
* Of the 38 stations examined, 36 were measured against their previous format (two were launched on brand new frequencies). Of those 36, 28 had higher ratings among 25-54s in winter ’06 than in that station’s last book before changing format.
* Of the 38 stations examined, at least half have already rebounded from at least one decline in audience during a quarterly survey period — a number that is only likely to increase as stations stay with the format during additional Arbitron surveys.
* More than 80 percent of listeners to Adult Hits stations are among adults, age 25 to 54, which is radio’s “money” demographic, an audience segment that is highly prized by advertisers. However, only three stations – Bonneville’s KPKX (The Peak) Phoenix and WARH (The Arch) St. Louis and Citadel’s KBBD (Bob FM) Spokane, Wash. – were ranked number one in average quarter hour ratings (AQH) for adults, age 25-54, during the Winter 2006 (Arbitron’s most recent quarterly ratings report).

Edison’s Sean Ross says: “From the outset, some industry observers have expected the success of Adult Hits stations to be short-lived. But the music that people loved growing up doesn’t change for them. This study suggests that well-programmed, well-executed Adult Hits stations can be durable.”
“This very comprehensive national view of the ‘Adult Hits’ format promises to be enlightening and useful for both groups of broadcasters, stations in the format as well as those who compete against it,” said Gary Marince, vice president, Programming Services & Development, Arbitron. “At Arbitron, we have a treasure chest of audience information and we’re committed to helping the industry through these studies.”
Adult Hits stations play a wide variety of familiar music and emphasize transitions between songs that span genres and eras. Because of this broad playlist, Adult Hits stations are frequently compared to an iPod on “shuffle.”
Most Adult Hits stations are musically centered in Pop/Rock hits from the ’70s and ’80s, with some songs from the ’90s and 2000s. Playlists for Adult Hits stations are often twice the size of a typical Hot Adult Contemporary or Classic Hits station and range from 750 to 1,100 selections.
Download the Complete ‘Keeping Track Of Jack, Bob, and Pals’ Study Here.
One other interesting finding of the study: Only three stations were No. 1 25-54 AQH in the Winter ’06 book. Two are Bonneville’s KPKX (the Peak) Phoenix, and WARH (the Arch) St. Louis. What are these stations doing differently? Well, musically and presentationally, they are considerably different than many of their colleagues. Read about how in this week’s Ross On Radio.

6 replies
  1. JJ Duling
    JJ Duling says:

    Good stuff, Sean.
    I also want to remind you about our Adult Hits station in Louisville, 100.5 Louie FM. We signed-on in Fall ’05 and debuted #3 25-54 and followed that up in the Winter Arbitron #2 25-49. We’re different than the Jack stations in that we do have Personalities and our approach isn’t quite so “in-your-face”. Please check us out at
    JJ Duling, Louie FM Program Director

  2. Jeff Scheckner
    Jeff Scheckner says:

    Here’s the comment I posted on the NY Radio Message Board:
    In his recent radio industry column, Sean Ross presents an interesting analysis of Jack , Bob, Ben, etc. the numerous stations around the country loosely defined as “adult hits.” He concludes that these stations do well in the desirable 25-54 age demographic but not all of the 38 stations in his analysis are equal. The three which perform best are not part of the CBS-Jack cluster and have djs; KPXK in Phoenix, WARH in St. Louis and KBBD in Spokane. Here’s the link to the Ross article:
    I conducted my own analysis of the 10 stations in just the CBS Jack cluster including the stations in Fresno, LA, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Mineapolis, Sacramento, Baltimore, Las Vegas and WCBS/Jack-FM in New York. Within this group the stations in Fresno KFJK, Baltimore WQSR and LA KCBS performed best but each declined recently. The stations in Chicago WJMK and New York WCBS-FM performed worst with the latest ratings below 2. In the 4 Arbitron books, Summer ’05, Fall, Winter and Spring pt. 1, the 10 CBS Jack stations had an accumulated consistent rating ranging from 27.0 to 27.2. However in the Spring pt. 2 rating there was a decline to 26.5 despite the slight improvement in New York.

  3. Brett Astor
    Brett Astor says:

    The radio industry would be best served by defining its business as one which aggregates a homogenous audience and delivering that audience to advertisers.
    Instead it seems that the radio industry is focused on one thing: increasing audience size.
    Increasing audience size while simultaneously decreasing audience quality (homogeneity) is a folly.
    Advertisers won’t be willing to pay the same rates to reach more people if a lower percentage of them are the target. They may be fooled in the short term, but not in the long term.
    Oh, and just in case there’s any illusion, “Adults 25-54″ is not a target. That’s mass marketing and TV and print have that covered.

  4. Lance Tidwell
    Lance Tidwell says:

    Adults 25-54 does seem more like a family get together than a target. But our clients currently think different. The customer is always right, especially when they have the money.


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