Toronto Radio Ratings: Sizing up the Battles

I used to enjoy looking at Toronto's radio ratings. Then, I got fed up with the entire process. Who is carrying these PPM devices? Stations target a specific demographic, but regular folk like me can't access these figures. With so little data available, and so much skepticism, I just stopped looking.

Having said all that, I thought it might be fun to look at some Toronto radio competitors to see who's winning the PPM battle in Toronto. Keep in mind, I only have the numbers for all adults 12 and over, but since we're looking at stations chasing the same (or similar) demo, it should give us an idea as to who's winning.

These share percentages are for February 27, 2017 - May 28, 2017 and are courtesy of Numeris.

The sports radio battle

The Fan 590 - 3.2%
TSN Radio 1050 - 0.8%

The new rock battle

102.1 the Edge - 2.3%
Indie88 - 1.4%

The older guy battle

boom 97.3 - 8.9%
Q107 - 5.7%

The younger peeps pop station battle

99-9 Virgin Radio - 5.6%
Kiss 92.5 - 3.4%

The older peeps pop station battle

CHFI - 11.4%
CHUM-FM - 8.7%

The talk station battle

Newstalk 1010 - 6.7%
AM 640 - 1.7%

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Comments (45 - click here to join in!)

Hamish Grant

Not surprising to see boom 97.3 eating everyone's lunch. They've got a good thing going there.

I'm pleased to see Indie88 do so well against 102.1, the local dinosaur in that segment of the market.

This list leaves off stats for CBC Radio 1 and 2:

Feb 27-May 28 A12+

CBC Radio Two 1.4
CBC Radio One 8.8

June 8, 2017 @ 9:48 AM

James Edgar

i'd be interested to see how the new Fan 590 morning show is doing against the Blundell show.

June 8, 2017 @ 9:55 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

A few stations of significance I left off the battle list because they either have no competitor or are difficult to categorize:

CBC Radio One - 8.9%
680 News - 6.6%
93.5 The Move - 1.6%

June 8, 2017 @ 10:33 AM


How did 97.7 HTZFM fair?

June 8, 2017 @ 11:13 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

97.7 HTZ-FM does not participate in this Toronto survey, so we can't know their share of the Toronto market.

June 8, 2017 @ 11:17 AM


I enjoyed the way you simplified this. I enjoy keeping up with ratings but it's usually a dogs breakfast to understand.

June 8, 2017 @ 11:37 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


What's most important here is that a station targets a demo and bills advertisers based on their share of that demo.

So if CFNY targets males 19-34, for example, they only care about their share in that demographic. This would explain why they would cancel a show like Spirit of Radio Sundays even though it might have more ears than any other show on the station. They only care about ears in their targeted demo.

And again, the frustration for a guy like me is I only get these overall figures for all adults 12+. So I work with what I have.

June 8, 2017 @ 11:45 AM

Westcoast Irv

You can find 97,7's ratings at in the dairy area. They were a 6.6 overall I believe

Re: CFNY. Terrible number & mathematically impossible for them to be up in their prime demo's. The CUME is below 300K which hasn't happened for a while. I guess they'll just fire some announcers as a means of fixing this. This station is cooked.

The Move isn't doing well. In their former incarnation they had a higher overall rating but that doesn't mean much. A small playlist peppered with the same old cancon gets burned out quickly even for people who listen to radio (who don't care much about music).

FYI Mike, I believe PPM numbers are 2+ not 12+. 12+ is the diary system.

June 8, 2017 @ 11:51 AM

m m

Yikes, the talk radio numbers tell me where the cranky old men get their baseless opinions. Yeesh.
What about zoomer radio, how are their numbers?

June 8, 2017 @ 11:54 AM


Talking about radio ratings in 2017 seems about as relevant as discussing magazine and newspaper circulation figures.

June 8, 2017 @ 11:57 AM

Rob J

Funny to me that the stations are 'chasing advertisers' when there are only 4 or 5 different ads being broadcast. If Alpine Credits or 1-800-GOT-JUNK ever go under, radio revenues will be extinct,

June 8, 2017 @ 1:40 PM


AM 640 seem to promote their 'new' morning show more than anything else, but since its launch, their numbers are actually down. How much longer will Corus let that ship sink?

June 8, 2017 @ 1:48 PM


Agree with James Edgar. Mike, is it possible to pull out that comparison?

June 8, 2017 @ 3:02 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I only have the overall shares for all adults 12+. That's what Numeris puts out in public.

If anyone wants to anonymously send me the numbers, I'll analyze and share. I am always discreet.

June 8, 2017 @ 3:07 PM


mike, shouldnt we have previous rating books, to determine if someone is rising or falling? I see the big josie dye launch was a major bust... just as I thought..

June 8, 2017 @ 3:29 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Looking at the previous ratings period of November 28, 2016 - February 26, 2017, here are the changes:

Indie88 was 1.5%, so a small drop of 0.1%.
102.1 was 2.5%, so a slightly bigger drop of 0.2%.

How do you know the Josie Dye show is a bust? I've seen no evidence of this.

June 8, 2017 @ 3:38 PM

Hamish Grant

This link

Regularly publishes comprehensive data for

A12+, A25-54 and A35-54, separated by sex.

June 8, 2017 @ 3:49 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Hamish Grant

Steve Kowch was program director at CFRB so I'm sure he's got Bell Media contacts sending him their reports.

Personally, I'd like to see the source data so I can avoid any spins and cherry picking. Of course, I currently have no such access. :)

June 8, 2017 @ 3:53 PM


I always find it interesting that stations try to keep this stuff more or less a secret, unless they are doing well.

I feel the media outlets think we're just stupid people who will follow trendy (high viewership) stations and not listen to stations that have low ratings

That being said, Torontonians are willing to line up for 2 hours in front of a club and pay $8 for canadian club whisky because the place is hot... So maybe they have a point

June 9, 2017 @ 9:00 AM


My first reaction was to simply post "YAWN" to this.

As we all know, nowadays, professional consultants run nearly all radio, especially in and around major markets. Almost no station is willing to step out of the consultants' square box and take any kind of risk whatsoever. Research has even determined why so many of today's songs sound the way that they do, often to the detriment of artistic creativity and expression. As we know, a person can be smart, but people are dumb (see: Tommy Lee Jones in "Men In Black"), so we get what we get, for the most part.

On the topic of 88.1 and 102.1, neither station is going to have great ratings. Neither is a mainstream station, at the centre of the mass market of music. Neither is really all "indie" or "alternative", but they are not mainstream in the way a CHFI is, and never will be. Throw in the inferior signal strength and coverage of 88.1 vs. 102.1 (and the other major Toronto FMs) and unless the programming utterly excels at 88.1, they forever have a battle of physics holding them back from high ratings. My understanding is that the only modern/indie/alt-rock station to ever take #1 in any major North American market is Edmonton's Sonic 102.9 several years back (per the alt-rock radio weekly news "The Sands Report"). Last I heard, they were number five or six; still not bad

June 9, 2017 @ 11:58 AM

Westcoast Irv


Sonic 102.9 in Edmonton did have a great book once. It was more than a few years back though. Generally they do OK in the market. They're the only station playing alternative in the marketplace whereas other formats have multiple competitors (CHR, rock, etc).

The format destroyed itself. In the early 2000's the format lost it's focus on new music and focused on putting Nickelback & their clones in high rotation. They stopped being adventurous musically & the core of their audience split for greener pastures. Once in that pasture they never came back.

Commercial FM radio is like Walmart. Instead of "The People of Walmart" perhaps we need "The Listeners of Radio". Or the employees of radio.

June 9, 2017 @ 1:17 PM


@Westcoast Irv - I stream Sonic every now and then, to hear something different. When I am at a computer, I will not stream local radio, as I have to listen to that on my 11½ year old car's radio (CD changer broken, not repairable, stupidly expensive to replace as it is integrated with the HVAC, etc. - just not worth it).

Reading The Sands Report, which can be seen by powerful corporate people, one can see that there is some frustration on behalf of Music Directors and Program Directors in alt-rock radio. Your comment about high rotation is bang-on.

I don't think I want to go there with "The Listeners of Radio" or "The Employees of Radio". We've all heard about the many in the industry who have a great "face for radio". Of course, there are exceptions to that, but's just stay away from this.

June 9, 2017 @ 3:30 PM


TSN radio seems to have been quite the flop. What are they, 5 years in?

I think they could make much better programming choices. Maybe think outside the box a bit. As of now it just comes of kind across as 'Fan-Lite' and hockey bros.

June 9, 2017 @ 3:30 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


TSN Radio launched October 5, 2011.... that's almost six years ago.

Whether it's a flop or not depends upon their expectations.

June 9, 2017 @ 5:36 PM


In Toronto, it looks like TSN 1050 has more watts* than listeners. Why they also launched a Hamilton version on 1150 is beyond me. Apart from the Ti-Cats and McMaster sports, what is materially different in Hamilton from Toronto to talk about?

Conversely, in Winnipeg, TSN 1290 does rather well. Yes, they have the Jets games, but not the beloved Blue Bombers, and their summer numbers don't drop off much, so they're doing something better in the market than in Toronto - or Vancouver, where TSN has two stations.

For the Fan 590, it is not just their superior signal and coverage, day and night, that gives them higher ratings. Will Bell ever figure it out? Stay tuned.

* 50,000

June 10, 2017 @ 10:41 AM


TSN Overdrive with Hayes, Noodles & the O-Dog is the only thing that TSN Radio has going for them. These guys are the Seinfelds of radio. The O-Dog is priceless.

June 10, 2017 @ 11:12 AM


I'd love to see the morning breakdown 25-54 for the new shows on Indie, Edge and 640. Did any one of them trend up?

June 10, 2017 @ 8:40 PM


Who won the battle between CIAO, CINA, CJMR and CJSA in the South Asian radio battle?

June 10, 2017 @ 9:46 PM

Westcoast Irv


I don't think those stations subscribe to ratings. They're less about overall numbers and more about their own community. G98.7 is the same though they subscribe (and do well).


Sonic is pretty much a white bread radio station just it can add a few more deeper cuts because it's in Edmonton. It's really got very little direct competition in Edmonton. Most of the station is the same crappy radio pablum you hear elsewhere.

As far as FM radio goes you might want to try listening to Whistler FM. It's got a really diverse playlist. It's a micro station and serves the community well. Another really neat station I found late last year when I started commuting to Vancouver again. It's essentially a Triple A (with a surprisingly big signal) from Revelstoke BC (this small isolated resort town that's 600 km from Vancouver). Interesting playlist. In the last hour they've played CCR, Pixies, Amy Winehouse, M0, Lykke Li and even David Bowie. Both Whistler FM and Stoke go deeper than the usual cuts.

I gave up on FM radio years ago for music years ago. My preference for new music is Beats 1 from Apple and all things Spotify. I can't even stomach Sirius anymore. It's 2017 and the radio format is dead. Even festivals don't focus on musical genres anymore.

Does Edge even play Chance the Rapper? They should be.

June 11, 2017 @ 12:48 PM


I carried a ppm for aong time. The company doing the monitoring was very diligent on my use of the meter. They even called me up to confirm my listening habits. They are professional.

July 6, 2017 @ 2:56 AM


TSN 1050 (CHUM-AM) apparently has a built-in disadvantage in that it's signal is poor compared other major Toronto AM stations. It seems that many just outside of the immediate GTA have trouble receiving it. Its transmitter is smaller and closer to the lake in Clarkson (Mississauga) than even that of the other Bell AM station in Toronto, 1010 (CFRB).
That's probably part of why Bell has been pushing the iHeartRadio thing so much.

A week ago Bell started transmitting HD Radio signals of its FM stations from the CN Tower, with 1010 and 1050 available on the HD2 channels of 99.9 and 104.5 FM, although I doubt there's many who have the HD radio receivers required to hear it.

July 7, 2017 @ 8:18 AM

Randy Cross

If Oakley leaves AM640......they've got nuttin, turn out the lights. Corus ruined my mornings by putting the My Pillow show on for 3 plus hours. Dreadful boring Liberal non-content.

July 10, 2017 @ 11:30 PM

Colin McCulloch

When will AM 640 cancel the current morning show? Absolutely the worst.

August 16, 2017 @ 9:32 AM


640's morning show went from a 2.9 to a 1.9 Feb 2016-Feb 2017. Afternoon drive went 1.5 to 1.6.

August 16, 2017 @ 9:29 PM

Rob J

Soon 640 will be 'Coast to Coast AM' 24-7.

August 16, 2017 @ 11:53 PM

Rick Orillian

AM 640 HAS to get rid of Supriya on the Morning Show. Matt too, I guess.
Nathan Smith has effed up AM 640 big time!

PS. Just listened to Cutrara's interview. It was great until you rudely played her out as she was in the middle of a story, lol.

November 7, 2017 @ 4:44 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Rick Orillian

I rarely do that, but I had a hard deadline because I had work to do. Kelly's a bud and I'll get her back to kick out the jams (and finish her story!).

November 7, 2017 @ 8:29 AM

Andrew Vajda

I switch to fresh radio 95.3. Their format is great

November 12, 2017 @ 11:25 AM

Andrew Vajda

Honestly the best morning show is on SiriusXM Channel 100, Howard Stern out shines them all!!

You want great talk it's also on satellite no comparison to CFRB or 640. They have way to many commercials and not lively enough topics.

November 12, 2017 @ 11:29 AM

Rob K

I stopped listening to 640, I tried to put up with listening to the Matt and Supriya show, and its like listening to the evening Global TV News really loud in the morning, Oakley was great talker with a smooth voice that made it easy to listen in the morning, the commercials are over the top, but I would put up with them when Oakley was on, then after it would be a nice transition to Mike Stafford and his style, I will tune in to Stafford once in a while, but not like before where I listened every day after Oakley where these two styles complimented each other, as for listening to Oakley at 4 pm, I rarely do it as my radio listening time is over.
Ive been to many establishments who always had 640 on in the morning, and the radios have gone silent and just some music playing.
I understand 640's ratings have tanked since the change, and they well deserve it, the excuse of "we are moving a different direction" doesn't cut it with me.
I know many people who stopped listening to 640, but who am I, but just some listener.

November 19, 2017 @ 10:27 PM


Yep! Another listener here not tuning in to 640 morning show anymore. The female has the most annoying voice on radio at the moment IMO. Even when she does the my pillow ad when I listen to another presenter I immediately hit the off button! John Oakley owned that spot and was perfectly followed by Mike Stafford. RIP am 640 morning show.

November 25, 2017 @ 4:22 PM


I'd interested in the year-over-year comparison with these same stations. Really curious how AM640 has fared now that we're over a year in with the big morning show change.

And now that C2C is gone weekdays, what will AM640's future look like?

December 29, 2017 @ 11:43 AM


Attention: AM 640 management.

Curious to know why the current Morning Show team is still on the air? Matt Gurney is absolutely atrocious as a radio talk show host. I know many have said Supriya and her voice especially are bad but MATT HAS GOT TO GO, he is absolutely horrific. And when you add in his 8000 Twitter comments and messages per day on his "personal" Twitter handle I don't know how AM 640 can keep this guy employed. He is an absolute embarrassment to the station.

Bring back Oakley or someone who has some genuine charizma, character, and common sense to the Morning Show because you're losing listeners by the thousands with the two buffoons you have on there now.

December 30, 2017 @ 1:28 AM


I thought it was just me, but Ive stopped listening to 640 AM also, and now since Global TV is involved, its obvious the station has decided to go with "Political Reassignment", Oakley in the morning and Stafford after was great listening, the spoon feeding of crap has just started and going to get worse, hopefully Oakley and Stafford will get out of there and continue somewhere else.
Global has turned into Canada's CNN, time to move on.

January 3, 2018 @ 7:30 PM


That's funny Jay....I always thought that Global, from the day it was born did nothing more than manufacture the news.....not report it.

January 11, 2018 @ 1:55 AM

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