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Radio’s Revenue Champ: WTOP(FM)

WFAN(AM) edges up, WGN(AM) slips down in BIA/Kelsey revenue rankings

When Hubbard Broadcasting takes over Bonneville’s WTOP in Washington as planned, it will be acquiring the nation’s top-billing radio station.

*Pending sale to Hubbard Broadcasting BIA/Kelsey research executive Mark Fratrik announced on his blog today that the all-news WTOP is the top biller of 2010 in his latest rankings.

“BIA/Kelsey estimates that station billed over $57 million, providing news and information to their local market in a year with significant political and economic news to report. KIIS(FM), a CHR station in Los Angeles, was second with $54 million. No other station billed over $50 million in 2010.”

The table shows Fratrik’s top 10 U.S. radio billers.

BIA noted that of these 10, five are AMs; and seven have a news, talk or sports format.

“The audiences attracted by that programming are very attractive to national and local advertisers, and thus, these stations can generate substantial revenues,” Fratrik wrote.

“Most of these stations have long histories of generating substantial revenues as nine of the 10 were in the top 10 for 2009. The only new station breaking the top 10 was WFAN(AM), which was right out of the top 10 at 12 for 2009 and has been in the top 10 in previous years. WGN(AM), the news/talk station in Chicago, slipped out of the top 10 this year to eleventh, only slightly behind number 10, KROQ(FM).”

WTOP’s rise up the chart is noteworthy in part because it is in the ninth-largest broadcast market, rather than one of the three or four biggest cities in the country. Also, two years ago it was ranked sixth, according to Radio World’s summary of BIA/Kelsey’s report at the time.

Another comparison of note is that in 2008, BIA estimated the revenue of Clear Channel’s KIIS(FM) in Los Angeles at $66.3 million, and in 2009 at $55 million. According to the latest estimate, that station took in $54 million in 2010.

Top Billers of 2009

Top Billers of 2008