WTOP Retains Top Billing Status For 2016

103.5 WTOP Washington DC BIA/Kelsey Radio Billing 102.7 KIIS-FMBIA/Kelsey has released its annual report on radio station revenues.

For the sixth time in the past seven years Hubbard Radio News 103.5 WTOP Washington DC holds the title of the top revenue generator in the nation. WTOP’s projected $67.5 million in revenue rose from $65 million in 2015, however the radio industry as a whole remained flat around $14.1 billion.

The top 4 remained consistent in place from the year before. iHeartMedia CHR 102.7 KIIS-FM Los Angeles (The only other station to lead the rankings this decade) holds steady at #2 with a slight revenue rise from $65 million to $65.9 million. iHeart sister CHR “Z100” 100.3 WHTZ Newark NJ holds steady at third with $48 million, down slightly from $48.4 million. CBS Sports 660 WFAN/101.9 WFAN-FM New York remains fourth at $46.5 million down a bit from $47 million.

CBS News 780 WBBM/105.9 WCFS Chicago rises from sixth to fifth with $45 million in revenue up from $43.8 in 2015. iHeartMedia Hot AC “104.3 My-FM” KBIG Los Angeles rises to a sixth place time at $44 million from $42.9. It ties with CBS News 880 WCBS New York, which dropped from fifth as revenue slid to $44 million from $45 million. The rest of the top ten rankings stayed the same with iHeartMedia AC “106.7 Lite-FM” WLTW New York rising to $42 million from $40 million, CBS News 1010 WINS New York showing a slight gain to $40 million from $39.5 million, and iHeartMedia Talk 640 KFI Los Angeles up to $38 million from $37.8 million.

The digital advertising income of U.S. radio stations continued its ascent in 2016, as the industry reported a 14 percent increase in online revenues, compared with only a slight bump in over-the-air income, according the first quarter edition of BIA/Kelsey’s 2017 Investing In Radio® Market Report. Washington, DC all-news station WTOP-FM was the top revenue-generation station, taking in $67.5 million in advertising revenues as the overall industry over-the-air advertising revenue stayed relatively flat at around $14.1 billion. The news-talk category experienced an overall improvement in 2016, likely due to the presidential year.

“In an age where consumers have many entertainment choices, local radio maintains its strength and popularity in the marketplace among national and local advertisers,” said Mark Fratrik, SVP and chief economist at BIA/Kelsey. “Our forecast also notes that by 2021 we expect radio to surpass newspapers and become the fifth largest media category among advertisers.”

Fratrik added that the prospects for 2017 remain similar, with OTA revenues increasing less than one percent and online about 12 percent. BIA/Kelsey forecasts that the radio industry’s revenue in 2017 will reach a total of $14.9 billion, representing 10.5 percent of the $148.8 billion U.S. local advertising marketplace as estimated by BIA/Kelsey.

More promising this year over last are radio transactions and station sales. With the February announcement that Entercom and CBS Radio will be combined into one company, after regulatory approval, the industry will experience renewed activity due to the sale and realignment in some markets. In 2016 the market was slow, with 556 station sales and nearly $500 million in transactions across the industry.

“We are encouraged by the Entercom purchase and how it will affect the competitive landscape,” Fratrik said. “The combined group will be closer to the size of industry leader iHeart Media and we expect the transaction to have a positive effect on radio since both organizations are progressive and well-run.” In February, Fratrik commented on the proposed merger in a blog post, “ENTERCOM – CBS: What Does it Mean?”

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

6 Comments


  1. I have CBS Radio stations that will soon be acquired by Entercom in my area. Out of all those stations, EL Zol 107.9 is the lowest rated station in the market. I expect that Entercom will change formats on that station once they close on the merger with CBS Radio, perhaps to Top 40 since HOT 99.5 hasn’t had a full time competitor for several years.


    • Signal-wise, 107.9 is probably too poor in NoVa to be a truly effective competitor to 99.5. Also, Entercom would need to be careful about not being too close to either Fresh or ‘PGC. From what I’ve come across (which, admittedly, is at least second-hand), El Zol does pretty well in the younger demos and/or billings–especially given the aforementioned signal issues.

      Given how long the format’s been around, I can’t see Entercom dropping it right away–unless it feels that it can’t successfully run Spanish-language stations. And, if that’s the case (which, personally, I don’t agree with), Classic Hits–which has been rumored every so often for both 107.9 and 99.1–would likely be better or, at least, safer.


      • Entercom has/or will have top 40 competition with iHeartMedia in other major markets such as Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Detroit, Boston, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Orlando, Miami, and Chicago. So I don’t see a reason why Entercom shouldn’t go head to head with iHeartMedia in Washington D.C.


        • If Entercom only wants to shave a bit off of Hot’s ratings, maybe. However, I don’t think that it would want to do that. Also, if anything, CBS was more aggressive than Entercom at directly taking on iHeart CHRs; the fact that it didn’t here suggests that it really didn’t want to. Beyond that, since 107.9 (like 99.1) is still fairly strong in Baltimore, perhaps CBS felt that doing so might end up harming its WWMX there.


          • I was thinking that Entercom could either re-brand 106.5 as AMP Radio or move 99.1’s Bloomberg format to 107.9’s HD2 subchannel, simulcast 1300 AM on 105.7 HD2, and launch a Top 40 format on 99.1. The WDCH calls would fit very well with the Top 40 format since 98.7 in Detroit has very similar call letters.


          • There’s probably been too much success with the Mix name on 106.5 (including with the current format) for anyone to gamble on a basic rebranding right now.

            And, as far as 99.1 goes, I assume that the deal with Bloomberg would prevent CBS (and consequently Entercom) from making immediate, unilateral decisions regarding the format. Besides, the sports-overflow situation with WJFK would probably also need to be addressed.

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