In the overall ratings for listeners 12 and older for the entire 24 hours, KYW (AM/1060) finished first, with WMMR second.
The zany humor of DeBella, top morning man in town for years, appears to be wearing a little thin. Stern gradually had been closing the ratings gap.
The figures for listeners 12 years and older for the Jan. 4-March 28 period show Stern with an 8.9 share of the audience, up from 7.3 in the fall Arbitron book. DeBella had a 6.8 share, down from 8.7.
The share represents the percentage of radio listeners at any given moment.
What did DeBella have to say about the latest Arbitron ratings?
"Winning the winter book is like winning the Olympic gold medal for dog paddle," he said. "No one's impressed. We have had nothing but up ratings since we started on the air on WMMR seven years ago, and have been No. 1 for the past five. That's longer than Cosby. We had a down book. It happens."
However, Andy Bloom, WYSP operations manager, was impressed.
"I guess we finally made the Big Time News today," Bloom said. "Howard really beat DeBella badly.
"The morning show of the 1980s was the 'Morning Zoo' on WMMR. Now, with this crushing defeat of DeBella as we enter the 1990s, I predict Howard Stern will be the morning show of the decade in Philadelphia."
Stern has been on WYSP since August 1986. That year DeBella had a 13.4 share and WYSP had a 2.8 share, Bloom said.
In the afternoon drive-time talk show contest, Frank Rizzo on WCAU (AM/ 1210) continued his slide in ratings. Irv Homer, on all-talk WWDB (FM/ 96.5), finished with a 3.9 share, only a 10th of a point behind the former mayor. A year ago in the winter book, Rizzo had a 4.9 share, Homer 3.7.
The biggest gain in the overall winter book was made by soft rock WMGK (FM/ Magic 103). It finished in a tie for ninth place with another soft rock station, WKSZ (FM/KISS 100).
Stern's showing enabled his station to gain in the overall ratings. WYSP, playing rock except for his morning stint, finished fifth, behind black- oriented WUSL (FM/Power 99), in third place, and soft rock WEAZ (FM/101), in fourth.