Media

Denver's Most and Least Popular Radio Stations Now

BJ Harris and Jamie White helm the morning show at Alice/105.9 FM, currently the most popular Denver radio station among listeners age six and older.
BJ Harris and Jamie White helm the morning show at Alice/105.9 FM, currently the most popular Denver radio station among listeners age six and older. Alice 105.9
The ratings for Denver radio stations have seen some significant shifts over the past three months, when a new outlet reached number one and other popular stations swapped places. Further down the roster, big gains were registered by a leading sports-talker, while a public-radio favorite that became a focus of controversy saw its audience share slide.

These are among the biggest takeaways from updated numbers related to radio listeners in Denver, the country's eighteenth-largest market, from Nielsen, the industry's leading surveyor. Below, find figures from October compared to those released in July and cited in our previous look at Denver's most and least popular stations. But the results require some interpretation.

Most of Nielsen's ratings are considered proprietary, in part because they're so granular. They're broken down by age and gender, so that service subscribers targeting a specific slice of the audience pie — for instance, females between the ages of 25 and 54 — can tell if they're reaching these listeners and use the data to sell advertising to businesses that cater to them. Stats are also provided for each section of the day, with the mornings and afternoons the most important, traditionally the times when people are driving to or from work.

As a result, the only ratings Nielsen publishes measure all listeners age six or older Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to midnight using a metric called a share, which the company defines as "the percentage of those listening to radio in the MSA [Metropolitan Statistical Area] who are listening to a particular radio station." That makes the public information extremely general, since it doesn't differentiate between a station's most popular shows and those that are barely heard, or give an indication about whether the audience is so dominated by specific types of listeners that even modest ratings can pay off for advertisers.

What these ratings do reveal, however, is the overall popularity of a station. In July, the top finisher was KYGO-FM, the longtime voice of country music in Denver, which is owned by Bonneville International, a media company based in Salt Lake City. During that month, the station scored a 7.6 share among listeners — more than a full point higher than its sibling station, KOSI-FM, which came in with a 6.2 share. But in October, KYGO's listenership share tumbled to 5.4, landing it in fourth place, well behind the new champ, Alice/105.9, an adult-contemporary specialist owned by Philadelphia's Audacy.

Alice put up a 6.9 share, well ahead of KOSI, which remained at 6.2. Oldies purveyor KXKL, aka KOOL 105, jumped from fifth to third with a 5.8 share, while classic-rocking KQMT, known as The Mountain, moved in the opposite direction; its audience share went from 5.8 in July to 5.1 in October, landing it in fifth place.

How many listeners do these numbers represent? That's a complicated question, and even a rough estimate requires some math.

According to Nielsen, shares count "average quarter-hour persons," or the "average number of persons listening to a particular station for at least five minutes during a fifteen-minute period." In rough terms, then, Alice's 6.9 share translates to 6.9 percent of Denver radio listeners, on average, from early in the morning to the witching hour over seven days — and even in the age of music apps such as Spotify and satellite radio, this figure is substantial. A 2021 Nielsen Media Research study found that 88 percent of Americans, or around 293 million people, listen weekly to terrestrial radio, the term applied to stations that reach ears by way of old-fashioned broadcasting towers. (The total is said to exceed those who use Facebook each week.) Apply that 88 percent to Nielsen's estimate of greater Denver's population, 2,796,400, and it adds up to approximately 2.46 million. Multiply that by 6.9 percent, and the result is an Alice audience estimate of nearly 170,000 people per week.

Music stations again dominated the Denver ratings. The first news/talk broadcaster to appear on the October rundown is KCFR, the flagship of Colorado Public Radio, which occupies eighth place, an improvement by one slot. In ninth, up from fifteenth, is 104.3 The Fan, which has made headlines in September and October by replacing ex-Bronco Tyler Polumbus, who'd been partnering with Darren "D-Mac" McKee on the weekday-afternoon staple The Drive, with another former Super Bowl victor, Derek Wolfe. This move likely contributed to its audience share jumping from 2.6 to 4.1.

The news wasn't nearly as good for KUVO, the area's main radio source for jazz. The exit of four longtime KUVO hosts over the course of 2022 blew up in September, and the following month's share came in at 0.8, less than half of July's 1.9.

The October list for Denver includes 39 stations, and several of them are spinoffs from other outlets, such as the HD2 offering linked to hip-hop/R&B specialist KS 107.5. Two places were filled by signals from KXDP, a low-powered analog TV station whose audio can be received at 87.75 FM; a third that made the grade in July fell short this time around.

Nielsen doesn't publish ratings information for non-subscribers — and there are a lot of them. The Radio Locator website counts 106 radio stations "that may be within listening range of Denver, Colorado" — and "may" is the operative word, since eleven stations from Colorado Springs and five from Pueblo are featured. But the list includes sixty-plus stations that are definitively part of the market: 32 in Denver proper, plus five registered to Golden, four apiece from Boulder and Lakewood, three from Aurora, two from both Englewood and Littleton, and one each in Wheat Ridge, Timnath, Centennial, Greenwood Village, Lafayette, Watkins, Castle Rock and Parker. Included are nine stations classified as "Christian" and fourteen as "Religious," and if any of them generated even a tenth of a 6+ share, Nielsen isn't telling.

Continue to see the Nielsen ratings for Denver in October, ranked from the largest to smallest share of listeners age six and older, juxtaposed with data from July.

1. KALC-FM (Alice)
Format: Adult Contemporary
Owner: Audacy
October 2022 ratings share: 6.9
July 2022 ranking: 4
July 2022 ratings share: 5.4

2. KOSI-FM
Format: Adult Contemporary
Owner: Bonneville International
October 2022 ratings share: 6.2
July 2022 ranking: 2
July 2022 ratings share: 6.2

3. KXKL-FM (KOOL 105)
Format: Classic Hits
Owner: KSE Radio Ventures
October 2022 ratings share: 5.8
July 2022 ranking: 5
July 2022 ratings share: 5.3

4. KYGO-FM
Format: Country
Owner: Bonneville International
October 2022 ratings share: 5.4
July 2022 ranking: 1
July 2022 ratings share: 7.6

5. KQMT-FM (The Mountain)
Format: Classic Rock
Owner: Audacy
October 2022 ratings share: 5.1
July 2022 ranking: 3
July 2022 ratings share: 5.8

6. KIMN-FM
Format: Hot AC
Owner: KSE Radio Ventures
October 2022 ratings share: 4.7
July 2022 ranking: 6
July 2022 ratings share: 4.9

7. KRFX-FM (The Fox)
Format: Classic Rock
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 4.5
July 2022 ranking: 8
July 2022 ratings share: 4.3

8. KCFR-FM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
October 2022 ratings share: 4.1
July 2022 ranking: 9
July 2022 ratings share: 4.0

9. KKFN-FM (104.3 The Fan)
Format: All Sports
Owner: Bonneville International
October 2022 ratings share: 4.1
July 2022 ranking: 15
July 2022 ratings share: 2.6

10. KBCO-FM
Format: Alternative
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 4.0
July 2022 ranking: 10
July 2022 ratings share: 3.7

11. KTCL-FM (Channel 93.3)
Format: Alternative
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 3.7
July 2022 ranking: 7
July 2022 ratings share: 4.5

12. KVOD-FM
Format: Classical
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
October 2022 ratings share: 3.0
July 2022 ranking: 11
July 2022 ratings share: 3.5

13. KJMN-FM (José 92.1)
Format: Adult Hits
Owner: Entravision
October 2022 ratings share: 2.8
July 2022 ranking: 13
July 2022 ratings share: 2.9

14. KXPK-FM (La Tricolor 96.5)
Format: Regional Mexican
Owner: Entravision
October 2022 ratings share: 2.8
July 2022 ranking: 14
July 2022 ratings share: 2.7

15. KDHT-FM (Hits 95.7)
Format: Contemporary Hits Radio
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 2.7
July 2022 ranking: 12
July 2022 ratings share: 2.9

16. KQKS-FM (KS 107.5)
Format: Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio
Owner: Audacy
October 2022 ratings share: 2.7
July 2022 ranking: 19
July 2022 ratings share: 2.2

17. KHOW-AM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 2.5
July 2022 ranking: 16
July 2022 ratings share: 2.4

18. KOA-AM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 2.3
July 2022 ranking: 17
July 2022 ratings share: 2.4

19. KWBL-FM (The Bull)
Format: Country
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 2.1
July 2022 ranking: 18
July 2022 ratings share: 2.3

20. KDFD-AM (Freedom 93.7)
Format: News/Talk
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 1.7
July 2022 ranking: 21
July 2022 ratings share: 1.7

21. KJHM-FM (Jammin 101.5)
Format: Rhythmic AC
Owner: Max Radio
October 2022 ratings share: 1.5
July 2022 ranking: 25
July 2022 ratings share: 1.1

22. KKSE-FM (Altitude Sports Radio)
Format: Sports
Owner: KSE Radio Ventures
October 2022 ratings share: 1.4
July 2022 ranking: 23
July 2022 ratings share: 1.2

23. KUNC-FM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: Community Radio For Northern Colorado
October 2022 ratings share: 1.4
July 2022 ranking: 22
July 2022 ratings share: 1.7

24. KFCO-FM (Flo 107.1)
Format: Contemporary Hit Radio
Owner: Max Radio
October 2022 ratings share: 1.0
July 2022 ranking: 28
July 2022 ratings share: 0.8

25. KBPI-FM
Format: Rock
Owner: iHeartMedia
October 2022 ratings share: 0.9
July 2022 ranking: 27
July 2022 ratings share: 0.8

26. KQKS-FM-HD2
Format: Comedy
Owner: Audacy
October 2022 ratings share: 0.9
July 2022 ranking: 24
July 2022 ratings share: 1.2

27. KUVO-FM
Format: Jazz
Owner: Rocky Mountain Public Media
October 2022 ratings share: 0.8
July 2022 ranking: 20
July 2022 ratings share: 1.9

28. KBNO-AM (Que Bueno Denver)
Format: Regional Mexican
Owner: Latino Communications
October 2022 ratings share: 0.7
July 2022 ranking: 26
July 2022 ratings share: 0.8

29. KUVO-FM-HD2
Format: Urban
Owner: Rocky Mountain Public Media
October 2022 ratings share: 0.7
July 2022 ranking: 29
July 2022 ratings share: 0.8

30. KVOQ-FM
Format: Alternative
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
October 2022 ratings share: 0.6
July 2022 ranking: 30
July 2022 ratings share: 0.6

31. KXDP-FM
Format: Regional Mexican
Owner: Syncom Media
October 2022 ratings share: 0.6
July 2022 ranking: 32
July 2022 ratings share: 0.4

32. KJAC-FM (The Colorado Sound)
Format: Alternative
Owner: Community Radio For Northern Colorado
October 2022 ratings share: 0.3
July 2022 ranking: 35
July 2022 ratings share: 0.1

33. KAMP-AM (1430 AM The Bet)
Format: Sports/Talk
Owner: Audacy
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1
July 2022 ranking: 33
July 2022 ratings share: 0.1

34. KEPN-AM (ESPN Denver 1600)
Format: All Sports
Owner: Bonneville International
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1
July 2022 ranking: 34
July 2022 ratings share: 0.1

35. KQMT-FM-STR
Format: Classic Rock
Owner: Audacy
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1
July 2022 ranking: 31
July 2022 ratings share: 0.5

36. KVOQ-FM-STR
Format: Alternative
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1
July 2022 ranking: 38
July 2022 ratings share: N/A

37. KXDP-FM-STR
Format: Regional Mexicon
Owner: Syncom Media
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1
July 2022 ranking: 37
July 2022 ratings share: 0.1

38: KYGO-FM-HD2
Format: Classic Country
Owner: Bonneville
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1
July 2022 ranking: N/A
July 2022 ratings share: N/A

39: KRCC-FM
Format: Public News/Talk
Owner: Colorado College
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1
July 2022 ranking: N/A
July 2022 ratings share: N/A
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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