If not the king of all media, as he proclaims, Howard Stern has proven that he is at least the king of morning radio in the Los Angeles market, according to the latest Arbitron ratings survey released Tuesday.
Scarcely more than a year after he debuted here, the New York-based Stern made good on his promise to become the top-rated morning personality, and in so doing became the first person ever to be No. 1 simultaneously in the nation's two largest radio markets.
"This is absolutely unprecedented: I don't remember any time in history where a personality has been No. 1 in New York and No. 1 in L.A., much less at the same time," said Ron Rodrigues, managing editor of Radio and Records, an industry publication.
"Howard Stern is really on fire," Rodrigues said. "He has really captured the imagination of radio in a way that one single radio personality has not done in so many years. He's really proving you don't have to be local to be successful."
The Arbitron ratings data for the summer showed that Stern--who started at KLSX-FM (97.1) on July 25, 1991--unseated the three-year ratings reign of KLOS-FM's (95.5) Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps.
Stern had a record 9.5% share of the audience in New York. In Los Angeles, his share of the audience was 6.4%, compared to 5.6% for Mark and Brian.
"This obviously represents the beginning of the King Stern era, the end of Mark and Brian's relevancy," KLSX program director Andy Bloom boasted. "They were once the only game in town. That was interesting, but there's a new king. Howard is a trend, not a fad. He's lasted for over 10 years now in New York."
Predictably, KLOS officials saw the upset differently.
"It's a little premature, based on winning one Arbitron, to proclaim yourself king of anything," said KLOS program director Carey Curelop. "We'd have to say congratulations to Howard. According to the ratings, he did what he set out to do. (But) if Stern can do over the next three years like Mark and Brian have done, then that will really be an accomplishment. One (ratings period) does not make or break a career."
Bloom said that he had expected Stern to make it to the top of the heap about 18 months after his debut, but many others in the radio industry had predicted that Stern's New York brand of outrageousness would never fly in Los Angeles.
Stern's ascendancy likely was influenced by a much talked-about appearance with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" last July and the announcement of an upcoming Stern movie.
Stern's show is taped in New York and also is heard in Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Dallas and Cleveland. According to industry trade publications, he will soon debut in Chicago.
Trailing Stern and Mark and Brian in the morning ratings race was KABC-AM's Ken Minyard and Roger Barkley, followed by veteran KIIS-FM/AM personality Rick Dees.
In the overall ratings contest, KOST-FM (103.5) retained its longtime hold on the No. 1 spot, followed by KPWR-FM (105.9) and KIIS-FM (102.7)/AM (1150). Alternative rocker KROQ-FM (106.7) rose from 14th place to tie with KLSX-FM for fourth place. KLSX rose from the 12th spot in the last ratings period.
The area's Top 15 stations and their Arbitron ratings for the summer quarter and the preceding quarter:
SPRING SUMMER 1. KOST-FM 5.0 5.2 2. KPWR-FM 4.2 4.4 3. KIIS-FM and AM 4.4 4.2 4. KROQ-FM 3.1 4.0 4. KLSX-FM 3.3 4.0 6. KRTH-FM 4.1 3.9 7. KKBT-FM 3.8 3.8 8. KABC-AM 4.4 3.7 9. KLOS-FM 4.0 3.6 9. KTNQ-AM 3.2 3.6 11.KLVE-FM 4.4 3.5 11.KXEZ-FM 3.7 3.5 13.KBIG-FM 4.0 3.0 14.KTWV-FM 2.1 2.8 15.KFI-AM 2.9 2.7 15.KFWB-AM 2.9 2.7
Ratings period is from June 25 to Sept. 16, 1992.