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JAMZ turns on radio listeners



Published: Thu, August 11, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

The Youngstown-Warren radio market doesn’t see a lot of change as far as ratings go.

The same handful of stations usually tussle for the top 5 spots in most of the demographic categories.

With some exceptions, it’s been country kingpin K-105, WKBN (news-talk), Hot 101 (top-40), Y-103 (classic-rock) and Mix 98 (contemporary-adult) in the top spots of the semi-annual Arbitron ratings books.

But the spring Arbitron book, which was released last week, shows a newcomer: WRBP-FM, otherwise known as JAMZ-101.9. The urban-music station cracked the top 5 in the overall ranking for the first time and even reached the top spot in several key demographics.

For all persons 12 and older, it finished third with an 8.3 share, behind K-105 (9.7) and WKBN (8.9). “Share” is the percentage of radio-listeners in the market who are tuned in to any one station.

WRBP finished No. 1 among adults age 18-34; women 18-34; and women 25-54.

Not bad, considering three years ago WRBP was all but left for dead. After the station’s prior owner defaulted on a loan, the lender took control and installed Skip Bednarczyk of Dallas as general manager.

In a market with about 20 stations, WRBP had long been a bottom-feeder. Bednarczyk was tasked with turning it around. With last week’s Arbitron report, he feels he’s done that.

WRBP’s format didn’t change: It played urban music long before Bednarczyk got here. What did change was the station’s focus (it became more local), it’s personality, and its music — which Bednarczyk selects (and that surprises some, given that he is a middle-aged white man).

Actually, WRBP’s audience knows no racial boundaries: It’s 50 percent white and 50 percent black.

The station’s only competition for urban-music listeners comes from Cleveland’s WENZ-107 FM, which covers Trumbull County and Austintown but fades out in the rest of Mahoning County.

Bednarczyk’s next goal is to hit the No. 1 spot, but he admits he’s got to make more inroads into Trumbull County to do that.

WRBP hit a bump a few months ago when it parted ways with popular DJ Lucky Penny, but quickly bounced back. Jammin’ Janay took over the 2 to 6 p.m. slot, and actually has increased the numbers for that time period.

SALEM COMMUNITY-THEATre MANAGER TO LEAVE POST

Sarah Durham will step down as theater manager of Salem Community Theatre after the current production, “Fiddler on the Roof,” ends its run this weekend.

Durham, who took over the post about three or four years ago, is moving to the Cleveland area with her family. She said she will remain active at the theater but in a more limited role.

The theater’s board still is discussing plans on how to fill the position left vacant by Durham’s departure.


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