Things are looking up for Greater Medias Charlotte stations WBT-AM (1110) and WLNK-FM (Link 107.9).
Both had faded in the ratings after Arbitron, the company that measures radio usage, went to a new system in 2010. Arbitron abandoned its longtime approach of asking a random sample of radio listeners to fill out a weekly diary of what they tuned into and started handing out beeper-sized gizmos to electronically measure what stations were listened to.
In the latest rankings, both WBT-AM and WLNK-FM were tied for No. 6 among Charlotte stations.
It was significant for Link, which had gone through a long slide. In the spring of 2010, when Arbitrons diary method ended, WLNK was No. 15 in overall listeners.
Arbitrons electronic monitors, called Portable People Meters or PPMs, are distributed to about 1,000 people in the 13-county Charlotte listening area. They are said to be more accurate than the diary system, which relied on people remembering what they listened to, and for how long.
Nationally, though, stations with talk formats tended to show a dip in the new ratings system while stations concentrating on music showed gains.
At WBT, Greater Media made changes to increase listener interest. It added more newsmaker interviews on shows like Charlottes Morning News and made weather and traffic an appointment destination on the 10s. It sped up segments by eliminating chit-chat.
At WLNK, the stations morning show with Bob Lacey and Sheri Lynch sped up the time spent with callers and started playing music between segments. Listeners complained, but ratings rose.
Programming evolution is what Trip Savery, Greater Medias Charlotte stations manager, calls the changes.
Both stations have been steadily gaining in overall ratings, but particularly in the demographics important to advertisers.
WBT, which is aimed at men in the 25-54 age advertising market, is now No. 2 in that demographic behind WRFX-FM (Fox 99.7). WLNK, aimed at women 25-54, is No. 2 behind WBAV-FM (V 101.9). Bob & Sheri have climbed to No. 2 in mornings in that demographic and Matt Harris and Ramona Holloway are No. 1 in the afternoons.
ABC has moved the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition featuring Devonda and James Friday of Lincolnton from next week to Dec. 17 at 8 p.m., Channel 9. Hayley Ogas, 19, who grew up in Charlotte and is now an actress in Los Angeles, appears in How To Rock Christmas at 9 p.m. Saturday on Nickelodeon.
Another Charlotte woman will be appearing on the ABC romance series The Bachelor. Katie Levans, 27, an instructor at Y2 Yoga, will be among the 25 potential mates vying for the affection of bachelor Sean Lowe, an entrepreneur from Dallas, Texas, when the next installment debuts 8 p.m. Jan. 7.
Levans is a Kentucky native who attended Furman University and later Winthrop University to pursue a masters degree in nutrition. Levans is the latest Charlotte woman to have appeared on the show. Best known is Emily Maynard, who became The Bachelorette last summer, though it didnt work out with Jef Holm.
Maynard will appear on the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, radaronline reports.
Other bachelorettes from Charlotte over the years have included cocktail waitress Blakeley Shea, grad student Emily OBrien, marketing specialist and former Panthers cheerleader Kimberly Coon and fitness trainer Kristine Heffelfinger.
Cam Newton and Steve Smith have teamed up off the football field for a 30-second commercial for Foot Locker and Under Armour.