WFMS regains radio ratings lead in country showdown

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The earth shook all the way down-yonder to Ryman Auditorium. Listeners choked on their Moon Pies and swallowed their Skoal.

Country music newcomer WLHK-FM 97.1 “Hank FM” last April dethroned Indianapolis country king WFMS-FM 95.5 in the ratings among listeners ages 6 and above.

WFMS, you see, has been the Country Music Association’s large market station-of-the-year for a long, long time.

WFMS regained its lead the following month and held onto it in June, but only by the slightest of margins. WFMS had the city’s top radio share at 8.4 vs. No. 2 WLHK’s 8.2 percent, according to Arbitron.

“It’s more of a beauty pageant number,” said Mark Hamlin, program director of Cumulus Media-owned WFMS.

Hamlin is glad to have it, of course, but he can’t be thrilled with what other key ratings data important to advertisers are showing.

In June, Emmis Communications Corp.’s WLHK had the biggest average share of listeners ages 18-34 and 18-49 between 6 a.m. and midnight in the market. 

In the age 25 to 54 category watched by ad buyers, WLHK was second last month to WZPL-FM 99.5, followed closely by WFMS.

“We beat WFMS pretty soundly,” said Bob Richards, program director and on-air personality at WLHK.

Arch-rival Hamlin, at WFMS, will tell you that his station still out-billed WLHK in ad sales.

Of course that’s something harder to prove than which critter raided the henhouse.

WFMS also has tradition going for it. “The heritage—we’ve been here for 36 years and we’re part of people’s lives—that’s a big thing in country music,” Hamlin added.

Indianapolis-based Emmis converted 97.1 from soft rock to country in 2005. To many in country music circles, Emmis was misleading itself to think it could take on an institution the likes of WFMS.

One thing that helped was that Emmis hired several former WFMS personalities, including Richards, J.D. Cannon and Charlie Morgan, who is senior vice president and marketing manager for Emmis’ Indianapolis stations.

Hold your horses—it’s not that simple, Hamlin says. “I think the real story is the increased appreciation of country music in this market.”
Hamlin can’t think of a similar-sized market anywhere in the U.S. where country stations were No. 1 and No. 2 in the ratings among key demographics.

 Not even Nashville and Dallas have such a country music hankering as far as the ratings book goes.

“It’s a great market for country music,” he said.


  • Yee Haw
    Well, golly gee, there big city writer -- you sure packed more condescending stereotypical lines about country music in one article than an ol' boy could shake a stick at. I'll bet you think you're purty clever lookin' down your nose at us fans that way. Could hardly wait to see what you'd write if an urban music station was the ratings winner. Would it be this offensive, too?
  • G or PG
    Both are good. If I want some news with my music, I will listen to WFMS. But, if I want music, it's Hank that this 50yr old retired Navy will listen to. Hank also has the PG version of songs to where WFMS will make it G. There are just some songs that needs PG version, make you stand tall and proud to be American. I am sure you know what one's I am talking about.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I keep wondering why I keep hearing about this problem of corporations leaving America, and I never hear a reasonable proposal to lower corporate tax rates and raise personal rates on income from capital gains and dividends, especially for high earners. It is just too simple of a solution for Congress to embrace?

  2. Are you financially down and you need money to settle your dept,or you need money to start up a business or to invest on a huge business,we also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at low interest rate , loan terms determinant,Loan amount between the sum of $5,000.00 to $100,000,000.00. US Dollars And Euro. Loan for developing businesses a competitive edge/ business expansion. We Offer The Following Kinds Of Loans. Personal Loans (Secure and Unsecured) Business Loans (Secure and Unsecured) Consolidation Loan FIRST INFORMATIONS NEEDED ARE: BORROWER’S DATA’S INFORMATION,FILL AND RETURN FOR QUICK START UP PROCESS. Name:_________ Last Name:_________ Age:_________ Contact Address:_________ Country:_________ Amount Needed as Loan:_________ Loan Duration:_________ Phone Number__________ Monthly Income/Yearly Income:_________ Purpose for Loan:_________ Occupation:_________ How Soon is Loan Needed__________ Email via: albertbrownfirm@outlook.com

  3. is a disaster. SR37 already needs to be built to interstate standards between 465 and SR144. Southport Road is a mess each morning and evening.

  4. Bass Pro Shops would be good for the mall as well as a Giant Eagle Market District or a Jungle Jim's International Market Place grocery store like the one near Cincinnati Ohio.A Disney quest indoor theme park would be good.An Academy outdoor store would be good too.Indoor Circus shows and magic shows would be good as well. A casino with sports bar would be good.A Disney theater inside that shows movies and Broadway shows would work.Nashville Tennessee concert shops with indoor neon lights would be good.How about a theater that shows travel shows and theme parks. A train store would be good.How about a giant toy store with high tech video games.

  5. This development is in addition to Allpoints Midwest 5, Aitrtek, a recent FedEx and more in Plainfield. Greenwood and Brownsburg also have similar projects.