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Latino FM Station Hits No. 1

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the first time, a Spanish-language station has soared to the top of the Arbitron radio ratings heap in the Los Angeles market, leap-frogging from 21st to first place in three months.

KLAX-FM (97.9), formerly KSKQ, changed its call letters and format last August to contemporary ranchera (the Spanish equivalent of country music), and appears to have taken many of the listeners away from such firmly entrenched Spanish-language stations as KWKW-AM (1330) and KTNQ-AM (1020).

Its sudden success--garnering 5.3% of the Los Angeles listening audience over the age of 12--has caught the local radio world, and even some intimately involved with the station, by surprise.

“I’m amazed myself,” KLAX general manager Alfredo Rodriguez said Tuesday after the ratings were released. “I expected something good, but not this good. This is history. I don’t think this has ever happened in the country--the way the station went from practically nothing in five months then jumped to No. 1 in the market. That hasn’t been done in English or Spanish. But . . . with all the millions of Hispanics in Los Angeles, this is a logical thing to happen. It had to happen sometime.”

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Before taking over at KLAX, Rodriguez had been program director at KWKW for 12 years.

Officials at classic rock station KLSX-FM (97.1) expressed concern that some of their audience may have gotten the call letters mixed up and that those listeners may have been attributed to KLAX, but Arbitron officials flatly denied any such possibility.

“We noticed this upward trend, so we began checking them a long time ago,” said an Arbitron spokesperson. “What they wrote down was clear and clean.”

Other data from the latest survey, which covered the period from Sept. 24 through Dec. 16, 1992, showed that Los Angeles listeners have stayed loyal to Howard Stern, the controversial morning host on KLSX. Stern, who is also No. 1 in the mornings in New York, remains at the top of the hotly contested morning-drive competition, followed by KLOS-FM’s (95.5) Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps. In third place are Ken Minyard and Roger Barkley of KABC-AM (790). Rick Dees is fourth on KIIS-AM/FM.

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In the overall rankings, soft-rocking KOST-FM (103.5) dropped from first to second place, where it tied with dance music station KPWR-FM (105.9) with 5.1% of the audience. In fourth with 4.4% of the audience was oldies station KRTH-FM (101.1), which has been on a steady ratings rise for the past year or so.

In a surprise move, talk station KFI-AM (640) hit an all-time high of seventh place, with 3.7% of the audience tuning in, edging out veteran talk station KABC.

Radio Ratings

The area’s Top 15 stations and their Arbitron ratings for the fall quarter and the preceding quarter:

SUMMER FALL 1. KLAX-FM 2.0 5.3 2. KOST-FM 5.2 5.1 2. KPWR-FM 4.4 5.1 4. KRTH-FM 3.9 4.4 5. KIIS-AM/FM 4.2 4.2 6. KROQ-FM 4.0 3.8 7. KFI-AM 2.7 3.7 7. KBIG-FM 3.0 3.7 9. KLSX-FM 4.0 3.6 10. KABC-AM 3.7 3.5 11. KLVE-FM 3.5 3.4 12. KLOS-FM 3.6 3.2 13. KKBT-FM 3.8 3.1 14. KTNQ-AM 3.6 2.8 15. KNX-AM 2.6 2.7

Ratings period is from Sept. 24 to Dec. 16, 1992.


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