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WTMX-FM back on top in January Arbitron ratings book

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The holidays were really good to Clear Channel Radio's WLIT-FM (93.9). And January wasn't bad either, according to the Arbitron ratings report released Monday.

WLIT lost a big chunk of the huge rating that catapulted it to the top in the key 25 to 54 adult demo in the holiday Arbitron book, but the station held on to enough of its massive holiday audience in the January Arbitron book to remain in a tie for fifth place in the rankings with all-news WBBM-AM (780), which had the Chicago Bears broadcasts and a lot of lousy weather to attract listeners during the month.

It appears many listeners who flocked to WLIT for holiday music weren't as quick to abandon the station this time around after the seasonal music stopped. As recently as the October book, WLIT was in a tie for 11th place.

But WLIT's numbers were trending downward at the end of the January book, so the station could end up several notches lower in the rankings when the February book is released.

Elsewhere, Bonneville International's three Chicago outlets all made it into the top 10, with hot adult contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) in first place, classic hits WDRV-FM (971) in third and adult contemporary WILV-FM (100.3) in a tie for seventh place. Bonneville has sold all of its top-performing Chicago outlets to Hubbard Broadcasting in a deal that is expected to close in late April or early May.

The Mix has just introduced a new format from 8 pm to midnight, the station's weakest daypart, ratings-wise. The new format, called "U-Mix-It," allows listeners to interactively create the playlist each evening at the station's website. Station executives are calling the format an "experiment" that could disappear as quickly as it surfaced if it doesn't generate a significant ratings boost.

Both of the city's major news/talk outlets, Citadel Broadcasting's WLS-AM (890) and Tribune Co.'s WGN-AM (720) are struggling to gain traction. Despite the news hook of a mayoral race, WLS-AM wound up in 24th place overall in the 25 to 54 adult demo in January, down from a stronger 16th place showing as recently as November.

With the Citadel radio station chain said to be in talks to be acquired by Cumulus Media, WLS general manager Michael Damsky was making no predictions about the future on Tuesday. "I'm just happy to have survived the blizzard and the Bears," he said. WGN-AM was only marginally better than WLS in the January book, winding up in a tie for 22nd place overall among adults 25 to 54, with CBS Radio Chicago's adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9).

Observers continue to suggest WCFS could be a prime candidate for a simulcast of sports talk WSCR-AM (670), which proves the popularity of a sports format in a sports-obsessed town like Chicago. WSCR got a bump up to 12th place in the January book from 15th in the holiday book among adults 25 to 54. The station was in 2nd place in January in the target 25 to 54 male demo.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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