Down East 2013 ©
No numbers … for one day: The Arbitron ratings for Portland radio stations were released to subscribers on August 10, but, in a break from past practice, the figures weren’t made public. The numbers from the spring survey of listeners are being “embargoed,” according to one station general manager who asked not to be identified, because “half the market is not subscribing [to Arbitron] this year.”
The radio executive said the decision by several station owners not to pay for ratings information was “a cost-cutting move” due to sharp declines in advertising sales during the recession. Among the companies that didn’t buy into the latest Arbitron is Saga Communications, owner of country WPOR (101.9 FM)  and news-talk WGAN (560 AM) , which finished second and fifth respectively in the latest survey, according to a copy leaked by a radio insider. WPOR scored an 8.2 average quarter-hour share of the listening audience (up from 6.9 last fall and 6.7 a year ago). WGAN slumped, with its figures dropping from 9.8 in the fall and 7.7 in spring 2009 to 7.5 this year.
The Portland market leader was WMEA (90.1 FM), the Maine Public Broadcasting Network  outlet. It received a 9.2 share. Classic rocker WBLM (102.9 FM)  finished in a tie for third with contemporary hit WJBQ (97.9 FM)  with a 7.8 share. That’s an improvement over last year’s numbers for both stations.
That’s an improvement in the numbers for WHOM and WYNZ, but a disappointment for the other two.
Album rock WHXR (106.7 FM) took tenth place with a 4.4 share, a nice jump from 2009.
In all, seventy-seven stations in the Portland market showed up in the ratings, although 45 of them had zero share of the audience.
Lewie loves country: Arbitron was more forthcoming with its survey of Lewiston-Auburn radio listeners. The new figures for the nation’s 283rd largest market  show country music powerhouse WTHT more dominant than ever with a 16.7 average quarter-hour share of the audience. That’s up from a 13.4 share last fall and an 11.6 share a year ago.
Also gaining listeners was the number two station, WJBQ, which jumped from 8.3 in spring ‘09 to 9.2 in the fall to 11.7 this spring. WFNK and WHOM round out the top four. Both saw their shares increase.
The losers: WBLM, WPOR, classic hits WABK (104.3 FM) and hard rocker WTOS (105.1 FM) .
Portland talker WGAN picked up a little ground to finish 10th.
Rating redux: Here’s an addition to last week’s story on the Bangor radio ratings .
The Arbitron numbers that commercial stations buy don’t include the figures for nonprofit stations. But Lou Morin of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network is always happy to correct that oversight by providing the complete survey.
Well, happy might not be the right word, because unlike in Portland, public radio in Bangor had less than stellar numbers this time around. In the metro survey (covering Penobscot and Waldo counties), MPBN did reasonably well, scoring a combined 5.7 share for its stations (WMEA-FM and WMEH-FM), good for sixth place. That’s actually an increase over the 4.8 share public radio got last fall. But in the total survey area (Penobscot, Waldo, Hancock, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties), MPBN took a bath. The average quarter-hour share plunged from 12.4 last fall (and a number one ranking) to 7.6 (still good for second place).
Morin said public radio got a ratings boost in late 2009 from its coverage of the same-sex marriage referendum and the tax-reform question. Like other stations with heavy news content, MPBN suffered a loss of listeners once the election was over.
Morin couldn’t come up with the Arbitron numbers for Lewiston-Auburn because MPBN doesn’t subscribe to that survey. He did supply the above-mentioned WMEA numbers for the Portland market.
Rating redux redux: For some good insight and analysis of the most recent Bangor radio ratings, check out Radio-Info.com’s Northern New England discussion board .
The postings contain some harsh words for Blueberry Broadcasting’s local programming. The company owns nine stations in the market, nearly all of which lost ground in the survey.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com