Bud Kennedy

Radio ratings prove KERA’s calm talk beats loud talk

A WBAP/820 talk host works the board in a 2009 photo.
A WBAP/820 talk host works the board in a 2009 photo. Star-Telegram

The new talk radio ratings are almost unbelievable.

One radio executive doubts they’re even true.

For the first time in memory, public radio’s KERA/90.1 FM outranks commercial talk stations.

(KERA still trails all-news KRLD/1080 AM.)

Not only does public radio outrate blustery talk, but KERA’s rating also equals four talk stations combined.

Have NPR’s Diane Rehm and KERA’s Krys Boyd finally gotten the best of Rush Limbaugh?

“The brand of NPR and public radio is strong right now,” said Rick Holter, vice president-news at KERA.

KERA’s 2.3 rating, ahead of WBAP/820 AM (1.7), KLIF/570 AM, KSKY/660 AM and KFXR/1190 AM, isn’t unusual nationally.

“There is a strong loyalty among public radio listeners, and gifts made a big difference,” Holter said, noting Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hunt Hill’s $1 million for expanded news.

AM talk radio listeners are notoriously older. And it’s not an election year.

But at Irving-based Salem Radio, part of the Christian media conglomerate that owns KSKY/660 AM, Vice President Tom Tradup isn’t buying it.

“NPR remains essentially the media of choice for guys in beaded car seats driving cabs at DFW airport,” Tradup wrote in a scathing email that could have come from a host.

“You could stop the next 5,000 people on the street … virtually 100 percent of them would say they regularly listen to Rush Limbaugh. If you asked who Diane Rehm is, the response in most cases would be crickets.”

Comparing KERA’s rating to WBAP’s or KSKY’s is pointless, Tradup said. He called commercial talk radio “vibrant and impactful” even if it doesn’t “give folks a lavender tote bag.”

The difference may be as simple as AM and FM.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy