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Classic rock once again tops the charts in Jacksonville, Fla.
[April 25, 2006]

Classic rock once again tops the charts in Jacksonville, Fla.

(Florida Times-Union, The (Jacksonville) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Apr. 23--Classic rock station WFYV (104.5 FM) continued to lead the Jacksonville radio market in 2005, according to industry revenue data compiled by BIA Financial Network Inc. But after a major upheaval in the morning, the station known as "Rock 105" will face some challenges keeping that spot in 2006.

WFYV was the top-performing station in the market with $8.4 million in 2005 revenue, BIA reported. But the station lost its top-rated Lex & Terry morning show last fall after that duo left Cox Radio Inc., owner of WFYV, for Clear Channel Communications Inc.

Lex & Terry are now heard on Clear Channel's new rock station, WPLA (107.3 FM).

That change will likely have a big impact on the stations' performance this year, said Mark Schwartz, president of advertising firm Mark Schwartz & Co. and a former general manager of Cox's Jacksonville stations.

"While I believe the WFYV stales staff will rise to the occasion, I find it nearly impossible for them to match the 2005 performance in 2006, based on the loss of Lex & Terry," Schwartz said.

Lex & Terry, which is syndicated but originated in Jacksonville in 1993, began broadcasting on WPLA in February. Ratings for the show on WPLA are not yet available, but it has been the top-rated morning show in the market for years.

WFYV started its new Mark, Genny and Dahmer earlier this month to replace Lex & Terry.

Schwartz said a morning show can produce between 35 percent and 50 percent of revenue for a music station. So the shift of Lex & Terry to WPLA, which had $3.5 million in revenue last year, could mean a big shift in advertising dollars in the market.

"I'm not going to suggest they're all coming our way, but it certainly will improve our performance," said Norman Feuer, market manager of Clear Channel's cluster of seven Jacksonville radio stations.

WPLA is also benefiting from a stronger signal this year after it swapped frequencies with country music station WROO (now at 93.3 FM). The 107.3 frequency broadcasts at 100,000 watts, while the 93.3 signal is broadcast at 50,000.

Although there may be some changes in individual station performance, one thing remains the same.

The Jacksonville market continues to be dominated by Cox and Clear Channel, which made 80 percent of the market's revenue last year. The two companies had 10 of the top 11 stations, with Renda Broadcasting Corp.'s WEJZ (96.1 FM) being the only other station to crack the top 11 list at No. 6.

Cox, which owns five Jacksonville stations, had the top three, with WAPE (95.1 FM) and WOKV (690 AM) following WFYV. The company also had a significant revenue gain at fifth-ranked WJGL (96.9 FM), which grew revenue by $800,000 last year to $5.7 million, according to BIA figures.

WJGL, known as "the Eagle," changed its format from oldies to classic hits from the late 1960s to early 1980s, prompting numerous complaints from listeners of the old format. But the revenue data confirms Cox's decision.

"The Eagle would be like any other station that made a move to change its standing. It worked," said Bill Hendrich, market manager of Cox's Jacksonville operations.

Renda's WKQL (100.7 FM) changed from classic rock to oldies after WJGL dropped the format. But WKQL's revenue stayed the same at $700,000, according to BIA.

Overall, Jacksonville's radio revenue declined 1.9 percent last year to $67.8 million, BIA said.

That basically reflected the state of the industry, said Mark Fratrik, vice president of Virginia-based BIA, a financial and strategic advisory firm for the media industry.

Fratrik said the radio industry has been suffering from competition with satellite radio and other digital technology. But he's expecting revenue to increase in 2006.

"I think radio is becoming a little more aggressive in trying to respond to the challenges it faces," he said.

BIA is projecting Jacksonville's market revenue to grow to $69.1 million this year.

Bill Scull, general manager of Renda's four Jacksonville stations, said the year-long slump in the market is already turning around.

"The good news for Jacksonville is the market's beginning to pick up," Scull said. He said the rebound started in March and has continued into April, with May also looking strong.

Local general managers would not comment on BIA's estimates for the individual stations, but Schwartz said the figures are in line with data he has seen.

"They seem by and large to be reasonably accurate," he said.

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