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Holiday tunes provide magic lift for WLIT

Eric FergusKathy Hart

Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart

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Rankings in the December Arbitron book in the key 25-to-54 demo

1. WLIT-FM (93.9) adult contemporary

2. WVAZ-FM (102.7) urban adult contemporary

3. WTMX-FM (101.9) hot adult contemporary

4. WDRV-FM (97.1) classic hits

5. WOJO-FM (105.1) Regional Mexican music

6. WUSN-FM (99.5) Country

7. WILV-FM (100.3) adult contemporary

7. WXRT-FM (93.1) adult rock

9. WGCI-FM (107.5) urban contemporary

10 WBBM-AM (780) all news

Updated: April 24, 2012 4:53PM

No doubt about it: Chicagoans love their holiday music. And that unbridled passion for the traditional sounds of the season was great news for Clear Channel Radio Chicago’s adult contemporary WLIT-FM (93.9), which annually switches in early November to an all-holiday music format that abruptly ends shortly after Christmas Day.

WLIT soared from ninth place in the November Arbitron radio ratings book to the top of the rankings in the key 25-to-54-year-old demo in the December book released Tuesday.

The December numbers show just how huge the city’s appetite for holiday music is. The station bested its nearest competitor, Clear Channel’s urban adult contemporary WVAZ-FM (102.7), by more than a full three share points.

What is even more remarkable is how dominant WLIT’s holiday music format is in demos where it might not be expected to perform quite so well.

WLIT wound up ranked first among men 25 to 54, and even bested all other stations in the somewhat more fickle 18- to 34-year-old demo. Radio execs say women control the radio dial more than usual during the holiday season, forcing their husbands or boyfriends to listen to WLIT’s holiday music — or else.

While WLIT can bask in its ratings glory for at least a few weeks, no one in the local radio business expects the station to remain at the top of the heap with the holiday music silenced.

Elsewhere, the rest of the top 10 stations in the 25 to 54 demo included familiar top performers such as Bonneville International’s hot adult contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) and two sibling stations, classic hits WDRV-FM (97.1) and adult contemporary WILV-FM (100.3)

But we’re still waiting for the turnaround at WGN-AM in the post-Kevin Metheny era. The station slumped to a tie for 23rd place in the December book from a tie for 19th place in November.

The falloff was especially steep in evenings when Chicago Blackhawks games typically air. In that time period, the station plummeted to a tie for 24th place from a tie for 11th place in November.

The consistently top-ranked Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart morning drive show on hot adult contemporary WTMX-FM remained No. 1 in the December book in the 25 to 54 demo.

CBS Radio Chicago’s Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3) continues to have a hit in its morning drive show with J. Niice and Julian, which ranked first in their core 18 to 34 demo in the December Arbitron book.

News/talk WLS-AM’s (890) afternoon drive duo Roe Conn and Richard Roeper took a little dip, dropping to 16th place in December from 11th in the November book in the 25 to 54 demo.

WLS general manager Michael Damsky says his star afternoon team is up against a huge force: “Right now the Bears are the big topic in the city,” said Damsky, who is hopeful his duo will bounce back in January when the Chicago mayoral election takes center stage. That is, of course, unless the Bears advance to the Super Bowl.

But the Bears and their march toward the playoffs have been good for the city’s top sports talk station, CBS Radio Chicago’s WSCR-AM (670).

The station’s morning drive show with Sun-Times columnist Mike Mulligan and former Sun-Times reporter Brian Hanley was in second place in December among its core listeners men 25 to 54.

“Chicagoans want to talk about Chicago sports, and that’s what we do,” said WSCR program director Mitch Rosen.

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