After 48 years on the air, listeners tuned into hot AC WPLJ New York in droves to hear its final day of broadcasting. The audience surge that day, May 31, was so great that WPLJ, which only ranked 13th in Nielsen’s May survey (6+), throttled to third overall in the market in terms of raw quarter hours. The new Audio Overnights tool provides next day numbers, allowing Inside Radio to report exclusive listening data on the final days of WPLJ, and sister stations WRQX Washington, DC and WYAY Atlanta.

Based on Audio Overnights, a new tool from Media Monitors and Nielsen that provides next-day data to clients, WPLJ had a 6+ raw quarter-hour count of 1,138 on May 31 between the hours of 6am-7pm. The Friday raw quarter hour count increased 82% from Thursday, which was dubbed WPLJ Reunion Day, with a 6+ raw quarter-hour count of 731.

Overall, WPLJ was third in the market in terms of raw meter quarter hours on the day of its final broadcast.

WPLJ – along with WRQX Washington, DC; WYAY Atlanta; and three medium-market stations – was sold by Cumulus Media to Educational Media Foundation for $135 million in cash in a deal announced in February, as Inside Radio has reported, step by step.

In Washington, DC, fellow heritage hot AC WRQX dedicated “The Jack Diamond Morning Show” to the history of the station with Diamond and the crew returning for the final hour of “Mix 107.3” from 6-7pm on that same day, May 31. The 6+ raw quarter-hour count for WRQX increased 27% from 261 on Thursday, May 30 to 331 on the station’s final broadcast day, Friday.

“Talk 106.7” WYAY Atlanta, the lesser rated of the three major market stations that Cumulus dealt to EMF, saw the largest increase in 6+ raw quarter-hours, more than doubling from a count of 61 on Thursday to 145 on Friday.

Using the Audio Overnights tool, “We can show the number of meters and the number of quarter hours for a given period of time, daypart and demo,” Philippe Generali, President and CEO of Media Monitors tells Inside Radio. “We were not able to break down by demo before. Now we are able to break down the meters by demo, gender, ethnicity and a variety of criteria that will help you find out the composition of media panelists.”

Inside Radio is only permitted by Nielsen to report 6+ quarter-hour numbers and the overnight data provided is raw unweighted counts. “But we know by experience, having offered Audience Reaction of the service for many years, that this data is very close to the final data once the meter is weighted,” Generali notes.

Audience Reaction

Looking at Audience Reaction for WPLJ, you can see the ebb and flow of listeners tuning into the station throughout “Reunion Day” May 30 and the final day of the station May 31. On Thursday, listeners tuned in to hear WPLJ jocks past and present reminiscing about their time on the station. The peak of Audience Reaction came just before 8am when Race Taylor and Joey Kramer, anchoring the day, were joined by Heather O’Rourke, Lady Diana and Jamie Lee, with call-ins from Tony Banks and Naomi DiClemente.

Listenership remained steady through 8:30am, as many panelists began their work day. Interest then peaked again at lunch time as Fast Jimmy Roberts and AJ Hammer took over for the 1pm hour, which had the second highest listener count, according to Audience Reaction data. Listeners began tuning out after 6pm, with the drop from 6-7pm.

Reunion Day was followed by the final day for the legacy New York station. It consisted of the full-time staff at WPLJ, Todd Pettengill and Jayde Donovan (6-10am), Melony Torres (10-3pm) and Taylor (3-7pm) sharing memories and playing some of the music that was heard on the station over the years.

Mornings started off with a bang as Todd & Jayde hit a high in Audience Reaction just before 8am. Listeners remained throughout the midday, although not at the height seen in AM drive, with the lowest point of listening coming just before 12:30pm. Another peak occurred early on during Taylor’s shift at 3:30pm, dropping off in the 4pm hour and increasing through the 5pm hour with the ultimate peak coming just before 7pm as the station officially signed off.

The new Audio Overnights tool allows stations to look at events from the day prior, giving programmers an opportunity to quickly make adjustments. Says Generali, “You can try different things and see how the audience fills up, what sticks, what doesn’t stick, without having to wait as long as you would have if you didn’t have Audience Overnights.” – Jay Gleason