Denver's Most and Least Popular Radio Stations Update | Westword
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Denver's Most and Least Popular Radio Stations Now

One company has three stations in the top ten.
Jenny Hopkins, known to listeners as Jenny D, is the morning-show host of KOSI-FM.
Jenny Hopkins, known to listeners as Jenny D, is the morning-show host of KOSI-FM. kosi101.com
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There's officially a new leader in the race for Denver radio ratings.

Newly released numbers for February 2022 reveal that KOSI 101, an adult-contemporary powerhouse, hopped KALC-FM — a Hot AC purveyor better known as Alice 105.9 that led the field in October when it came to listeners age six and over.

That's not the only good news for KOSI's owner, Utah-based Bonneville International.

The firm has two other stations in Denver's top ten: country staple KYGO-FM, the sixth-place finisher, and sports-talk specialist 104.3 The Fan, which landed in tenth amid a legal dispute with digital sports network DNVR. The Fan's affiliated Denver Sports project is having to rebrand after a settlement with DNVR.

Still, Jim Lawson — who's both KOSI's program director and a weekday afternoon host at the outlet — isn't doing a victory lap just yet over the latest digits calculated by Nielsen, the leading tracker of radio listenership in the U.S.

One reason, he says, is that so-called "six-plus" ratings aren't all that important from a dollars-and-cents perspective. "Sales are really set by demographics: women 25-54, men 25-54, persons 18-49, whatever," Lawson explains. "So stations are most interested in that information, which Nielsen doesn't release publicly, because people pay for it. We pay for it, and so do advertising agencies. You have to be a subscriber to their service to see all of that data."

While the statistics may sound easy to understand on the surface, they can also be complicated at times.

Key metrics include "cume," TSL (time spent listening) and average-quarter-hour share, whose definitions are included at the bottom of this post. While Lawson sees the six-plus ratings as being mostly about "bragging rights," he concedes that they can provide a good indication about the overall health of a radio station, particularly one like KOSI, which targets women between 25 and 54 — even as it aims for a sound designed to keep more people tuned in for long periods of time.

"We look at KOSI as an at-work station," he notes. "We focus on people listening at work or while they work. They could be in a car, at a business, in an office. That's the nature of the AC format, which is a consensus format among a lot of different people. If somebody likes country, KOSI plays some of that. Same with ’80s rock. We play a variety of sounds from the ’80s, ’90s, the 2000s and today, because we play contemporary music, too. It's not like the KOSI of years ago, when it was slow and sleepy. It's up-tempo, with a true variety of genres and decades that makes it easy for people in an office to say, 'We like all of that.'"

The approach is different for the two other most popular Bonneville signals, at which programs in peak-listening periods are expected to pull the most weight.

"KYGO has a large, fun morning show with Tracy and Fizz, and Shawn Patrick, who's a recent hire, does the same thing in the afternoons. He's very charismatic," Lawson says.

Likewise, 104.3 The Fan has put a pair of high-profile ex-Denver Broncos — Mark Schlereth and Derek Wolfe — in its marquee slots. But Lawson stresses that "they have some great shows in the midday, too, like The Player's Club and Stokely and Zach."

As is the case for most sports stations, Lawson says, "The Fan's ratings go up and down based on the quality of the teams in the market. When the teams are doing great, the ratings do great — but they also do great when teams fire a coach or hire a coach. People tune into The Fan to get inside information."

In Lawson's view, these trends speak to the general health of radio, a medium that has been declared dead many times over in recent decades, yet somehow refuses to die.

"Obviously, available listenership is splintered to different platforms," he says. "We all experience it, whether we're on Facebook or Spotify or things like that. But those are niches, and radio still reaches around 90 percent of Americans every day."

Lawson adds, "Brian Michel, the program director of KYGO, once told me, 'Do you realize that if radio had been invented today, it would be the hottest thing going, because it's free?' You just have to listen to a few commercials, which Spotify and Pandora make you do, too — but there's no subscription fee. People would be like, 'Sign me up for that!'"

Below, Westword has compiled the Nielsen ratings for Denver in February 2023, ranked from the largest to smallest share of listeners age six and older — juxtaposed with data from October 2022. The info is then followed by the aforementioned Nielsen definitions.
Jim Lawson is KOSI's program director and afternoon host.
1. KOSI-FM
Format: Adult Contemporary
Owner: Bonneville International
February 2023 ratings share: 6.1
October 2022 ranking: 2
October 2022 ratings share: 6.2

2. KALC-FM (Alice)
Format: Adult Contemporary
Owner: Audacy
February 2023 ratings share: 5.6
October 2022 ranking: 1
October 2022 ratings share: 6.9

3. KRFX-FM (The Fox)
Format: Classic Rock
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 5.2
October 2022 ranking: 7
October 2022 ratings share: 4.5

4. KXKL-FM (KOOL 105)
Format: Classic Hits
Owner: KSE Radio Ventures
February 2023 ratings share: 5.0
October 2022 ranking: 3
October 2022 ratings share: 5.8

5. KQMT-FM (The Mountain)
Format: Classic Rock
Owner: Audacy
February 2023 ratings share: 4.9
October 2022 ranking: 5
October 2022 ratings share: 5.1

6. KYGO-FM
Format: Country
Owner: Bonneville International
February 2023 ratings share: 4.9
October 2022 ranking: 4
October 2022 ratings share: 5.4

7. KIMN-FM
Format: Hot AC
Owner: KSE Radio Ventures
February 2023 ratings share: 4.6
October 2022 ranking: 6
October 2022 ratings share: 4.7

8. KCFR-FM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
February 2023 ratings share: 4.5
October 2022 ranking: 8
October 2022 ratings share: 4.1

9. KTCL-FM (Channel 93.3)
Format: Alternative
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 4.5
October 2022 ranking: 11
October 2022 ratings share: 3.7

10. KKFN-FM (104.3 The Fan)
Format: All Sports
Owner: Bonneville International
February 2023 ratings share: 4.2
October 2022 ranking: 9
October 2022 ratings share: 4.1

11. KBCO-FM
Format: Alternative
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 4.1
October 2022 ranking: 10
October 2022 ratings share: 4.0

12. KJMN-FM (José 92.1)
Format: Adult Hits
Owner: Entravision
February 2023 ratings share: 4.1
October 2022 ranking: 13
October 2022 ratings share: 2.8

13. KVOD-FM
Format: Classical
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
February 2023 ratings share: 3.7
October 2022 ranking: 12
October 2022 ratings share: 3.0

14. KDHT-FM (Hits 95.7)
Format: Contemporary Hits Radio
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 3.0
October 2022 ranking: 15
October 2022 ratings share: 2.7

15. KXPK-FM (La Tricolor 96.5)
Format: Regional Mexican
Owner: Entravision
February 2023 ratings share: 2.9
October 2022 ranking: 14
October 2022 ratings share: 2.8

16. KQKS-FM (KS 107.5)
Format: Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio
Owner: Audacy
February 2023 ratings share: 2.6
October 2022 ranking: 16
October 2022 ratings share: 2.7

17. KOA-AM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 2.3
October 2022 ranking: 18
October 2022 ratings share: 2.3

18. KHOW-AM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 2.0
October 2022 ranking: 17
October 2022 ratings share: 2.5

19. KWBL-FM (The Bull)
Format: Country
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 1.9
October 2022 ranking: 19
October 2022 ratings share: 2.1

20. KJHM-FM (Jammin 101.5)
Format: Rhythmic AC
Owner: Max Radio
February 2023 ratings share: 1.7
October 2022 ranking: 21
October 2022 ratings share: 1.5

21. KDFD-AM (Freedom 93.7)
Format: News/Talk
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 1.4
October 2022 ranking: 20
October 2022 ratings share: 1.7

22. KKSE-FM (Altitude Sports Radio)
Format: Sports
Owner: KSE Radio Ventures
February 2023 ratings share: 1.3
October 2022 ranking: 22
October 2022 ratings share: 1.4

23. KUNC-FM
Format: News/Talk
Owner: Community Radio For Northern Colorado
February 2023 ratings share: 1.3
October 2022 ranking: 23
October 2022 ratings share: 1.4

24. KFCO-FM (Flo 107.1)
Format: Contemporary Hit Radio
Owner: Max Radio
February 2023 ratings share: 1.2
October 2022 ranking: 24
October 2022 ratings share: 1.0

25. KBPI-FM
Format: Rock
Owner: iHeartMedia
February 2023 ratings share: 0.8
October 2022 ranking: 25
October 2022 ratings share: 0.9

26. KQKS-FM-HD2
Format: Comedy
Owner: Audacy
February 2023 ratings share: 0.8
October 2022 ranking: 26
October 2022 ratings share: 0.9

27. KXDP-FM
Format: Regional Mexican
Owner: Syncom Media
February 2023 ratings share: 0.8
October 2022 ranking: 31
October 2022 ratings share: 0.6

28. KUVO-FM
Format: Jazz
Owner: Rocky Mountain Public Media
February 2023 ratings share: 0.6
October 2022 ranking: 27
October 2022 ratings share: 0.8

29. KVOQ-FM
Format: Alternative
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
February 2023 ratings share: 0.6
October 2022 ranking: 30
October 2022 ratings share: 0.6

30. KBNO-AM (Que Bueno Denver)
Format: Regional Mexican
Owner: Latino Communications
February 2023 ratings share: 0.5
October 2022 ranking: 28
October 2022 ratings share: 0.7

31. KJAC-FM (The Colorado Sound)
Format: Alternative
Owner: Community Radio For Northern Colorado
February 2023 ratings share: 0.5
October 2022 ranking: 32
October 2022 ratings share: 0.3

32. KUVO-FM-HD2
Format: Urban
Owner: Rocky Mountain Public Media
February 2023 ratings share: 0.4
October 2022 ranking: 29
October 2022 ratings share: 0.7

33. KVOQ-FM-STR
Format: Alternative
Owner: Public Broadcasting of Colorado
February 2023 ratings share: 0.2
October 2022 ranking: 36
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1

34. KEPN-AM (ESPN Denver 1600)
Format: All Sports
Owner: Bonneville International
February 2023 ratings share: 0.1
October 2022 ranking: 34
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1

35. KAMP-AM (1430 AM The Bet)
Format: Sports/Talk
Owner: Audacy
February 2023 ratings share: N/A
October 2022 ranking: 33
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1

36. KKSE-AM
Format: All Sports
Owner: KSE Radio Ventures
February 2023 ratings share: N/A
October 2022 ranking: N/A
October 2022 ratings share: N/A

37. KQMT-FM-STR
Format: Classic Rock
Owner: Audacy
February 2023 ratings share: N/A
October 2022 ranking: 35
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1

38. KXDP-LP
Format: Regional Mexican
Owner: Syncom Media Group
February 2023 ratings share: N/A
October 2022 ranking: N/A
October 2022 ratings share: N/A

39: KYGO-FM-HD2
Format: Classic Country
Owner: Bonneville
February 2023 ratings share: N/A
October 2022 ranking: 38
October 2022 ratings share: 0.1

Neilsen radio-term definitions:

Cume Persons

A station’s “Cume Persons” or “Cume” is the number of unique persons that listened to the station during the specified daypart. We determine a radio station’s Cume Persons by summing the weekly Panelist weights averaged across the report period (as applicable) for each of the station’s listeners and rounding that sum to hundreds.

Time Spent Listening

A station’s Time Spent Listening (TSL) is the average number of Quarter-Hours the station’s listeners listened to that station during the survey or report period. To determine a station’s TSL, we multiply the number of Quarter-Hours in the daypart by the station’s AQH or Average Daily AQH (as applicable) in that daypart and then divide by the station’s Cume or Average Daily Cume for the daypart. TSL estimates are expressed in hours and minutes.

Average Quarter-Hour Share

A station’s Average Quarter-Hour Persons estimate expressed as a percentage of the Market Total Average Quarter-Hour Persons estimate within a reported daypart.
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