KFRX, Matt McKay

KFRX talent Willy J (left), program director Matt McKay and Molly Sharp are a part of Lincoln's No. 1 radio station.

KFRX

Nobody was happier Bruno Mars won a truckload of Grammy Awards than KFRX program director Matt McKay.

“It’s nice to see the core artists with fresh new sounds,” McKay said. “Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars … That’s a star-studded cast who happen to be on our radio station.”

Mars won seven Grammys on Sunday, including Album of the Year for “24K.” Swift’s 2017 release, “Reputation” and its lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” topped the charts in the U.S. and elsewhere. Meanwhile Timberlake, who will perform the halftime show Sunday at Super Bowl LII, dropped his fifth studio album, “Man of the Woods,” Friday, with its lead single, “Filthy,” having hit the radio airwaves in January.

The popularity of those artists and others helped McKay’s contemporary hits station reclaim the No. 1 spot among Lincoln-area stations in Nielsen Audio’s Fall 2017 survey after finishing second the previous two surveys.

Alpha Media-owned KFRX (106.3 FM) won the fall with a 9.1 average share among listeners ages 12 and older. NRG Media-owned B107.3 (adult contemporary), KLIN (news-talk) and Froggy 98 (country) finished in a tie for second with a 6.8 average share.

For the fall “book,” Nielsen Audio surveyed 926 listeners from the Lincoln market (pop. 266,000) between Sept. 14 and Dec. 6. The media research company prohibits printing specific numbers unless it involves analyses.

Lincoln’s commercial radio market is made up of 12 stations, with six owned by Portland, Oregon-based Alpha Media (KFRX, KFOR, ESPN 101.5 FM/1480 AM, KX 96.9, The Eagle and The Blaze), five owned by Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based NRG Media (KLIN, B107.3, Red 945, Froggy 98 and WOW-FM) and one independent, locally owned sports station, The Ticket.

After winning 13 straight “books” over 6½ years, KFRX saw its streak end when sister station The Eagle, with its classic rock format, claimed the top spot among 12-plus listeners ages 12-plus for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 surveys. The Eagle dropped to sixth in this fall's survey with a 5.7 average share.

Not panicking, McKay said he held course, continuing to do the things -- playing the hits, engaging the audience -- that kept KFRX at No. 1 for so long.

“Ratings never determine changes for me, personally,” McKay said. “If I see changes that need to happen, I’ll make the changes.”

KFRX also did well with its target demographic, ages 18 to 34. The station finished first with men in the demo, with an average share doubling that of second-place The Blaze and KX 96.9, and was tied at No. 1 with B107.3 among women.

Finally, KFRX’s morning show of Matt McKay and “Lindsey” was tops in the market, posting an 8.4 average share among ages 12-plus. KFOR, with new co-host Gregg Henson now joining Carol Turner, was second at 7.2. B107.3’s Joe Skare and Gina Sherwood-Klein was third at 6.5. Henson came to Lincoln from iHeartMedia in Pittsburgh, replacing Chris Goforth, who left in July for a marketing position at the Nebraska State Historical Society.

In breaking down the fall survey:

* KLIN had what new program director Bob Shomper called a “rock star book.” Not only did the station finish second with ages 12-plus, but it finished second — tied with The Blaze and behind Froggy 98 — in its target demographic, men ages 25-54. KLIN saw its average share jump more than 3 points, from 4.2 to 7.4, among men.

KLIN’s morning show, “LNK Today,” jumped from a 3.6 to a 5.3 average share to finish sixth. Jack Mitchell introduced a new format following co-host’s Kevin Thomas’s departure. Mitchell either features a daily guest co-host or goes it alone.

Coby Mach’s, “Drive Time Lincoln,” is Lincoln’s most-listened to show on AM and FM at 5 p.m. Love him or hate him, Mach gets people to engage.

* Froggy 98 had a good book among ages 25 to 54, the main demographic radio stations tend use when selling advertising. Not only was the country station tops among men, but it tied KFRX for all people that age and finished second to KFRX with women in the demo.

* And though the Nebraska football team struggled, the broadcasts did not. The two stations carrying the games — KLIN and Froggy 98 — combined for a 20.7 share among ages 12-plus from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays during the season. The stations combined for a 20 share with persons 25-54 and a 23.8 share with men 25-54. I can’t wait to see what kind of numbers a Scott Frost-coached team will produce.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7213 or jkorbelik@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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