It’s where grown men tune in while on the “Crazy Train” to or from work, to get “More Than A Feeling” from their favorite station. It is, of course, classic rock, the format that has been the reservoir of rock ‘n roll’s most powerful songs and artists, from AC/DC to ZZ Top, for over 40 years.
Which stations deliver the biggest shares of their target demo and how they do it are the focus of the latest exclusives from-Indoor Radio By The Numbers’ “Top Performers” series, examining the audience composition of the top ten classic rockers based on Nielsen’s Spring 2022 quarter-hour average PPM market share among the major demographics of the format, men aged 25 to 54, Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
While iHeartMedia, Audacy and Saga Communications dominate, claiming eight of the top ten together, it’s Red Wolf Broadcasting’s “102.9 The Whale” WDRC-FM Hartford that picks up the largest share of males 25-54. It’s one of only two stations offering double-digit numbers in the demo, iHeart’s other “1059 The Rock” WNRQ Nashville.
For three stations, these high numbers are more impressive given a direct competitor in the market. This is the case in Hartford where WDRC-FM takes on Connoisseur Media’s WPLR in nearby New Haven; Detroit where Beasley Media Group’s WCSX takes on iHeart’s WLLZ “Detroit’s Wheels”, and Sacramento where Audacy’s KSEG “96.9 The Eagle” flies alongside iHeart’s KYRV “93.7 The River”.
On average, 71.7% of people aged 25-54 who listen to these 10 classic rock stations are male, with three of the ten significantly exceeding this average: iHeart’s WRFX “99.7 The Fox” in Charlotte (85.6 %), WCSX (80.2%) and iHeart’s “Q95” WFBQ Indianapolis (78.5%). Women ages 25-54 are more prominent in the listening mix of Audacy’s WNCX Cleveland (41.5%) and Saga’s WLVQ “Qfm96” in Columbus, OH (35.2%).
While an average of 15.3% of listeners are younger, in the 18-34 age bracket, KSEG (21.9%) and WCSX (20.4%) show a greater composition of these listeners. At the other end, 44.1% are on average 55 and older, with WNRQ (30.8%) and iHeart’s KGB-FM San Diego (33.2%) enjoying a more young. Nielsen data shows that these top-performing classic rock stations generate almost half (45.6%) of their listenership among people aged 25-54.
As with the other adult formats reviewed so far in By The Numbers, station loyalty is also key to the success of classic rock. Nearly seven in ten male listeners aged 25-54 (68.7%) of one of these ten stations, on average, call it their P1, with a higher share of loyal followers in the demo for WLVQ (81 .4%), WRFX (78.2%) and WNRQ (75.4%).
While the 10-station average daily viewing opportunities for males 25-54 are 4.6, WDRC-FM (5.3) and KGB-FM (5.2) pull close to an additional opportunity per day. Daily P1 events average 6.8, with these two stations (with 8.3 and 8.1, respectively) and Saga’s “Hometown Rock 96.5” WKLH Milwaukee (8.9) outperforming.
Listening at work, historically another major contributor to the success of classic rock, represents a slightly larger share of men aged 25-54 listening to these 10 stations (80.8%) compared to all stations in the PPM markets from Nielsen (80.6%) or from all of the American markets (77.7%). Networking at work is significantly higher for half of these 10: WRFX (94.2%), WNRQ (91.5%), WNCX (89.8%), WCSX (86.9%) and WFBQ (86 .2%), home listening, meanwhile, boasts a much higher composition of males aged 25-54 tuned into KGB-FM (42.4%) and WLVQ (36.7%).
Along these lines, full-time workers make up an average of 89.1% of male 25-54 year olds who listen to these top performers, with another half – WKLH (97.9%), WDRC-FM (96, 9%), WRFX (96.0%), WNRQ (95.7%) and KGB-FM (95.6%) – significant over-delivery. As for part-time workers, Sacramento’s KSEG claims a much larger share (24.0%) compared to the 10-station average of 5.3%.
While the makeup of black or Hispanic listeners to classic rock in the male 25-54 demo tends to be in the single digits, there are notable exceptions. WLVQ Columbus boasts a 17.7% share of black listeners, while Hispanics claim 14.7% of WKLH Milwaukee’s 25-54 male audience, which is higher than the overall makeup of 10 .3% of the market. – rich appeal