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April Format Counts: The Gap Between Country, Religion Grows Narrower.

A year ago, when the religion format (including religious teaching, hymns, and other related content) ranked third overall in Inside Radio/PrecisionTrak’s monthly format counts based on total stations in each format, it stood a distant 172 outlets from country, the usual leader.

How things have changed. As religion replaced news/talk as the second-ranked format, the gap between its total stations and country’s has gradually shrunk from that 172 to just 122 in April 2024. Over that period, country has lost 20 outlets while religion gained 30. Since January, religion has added just two stations, while country has lost two.

As it turns out, both of the biggest-gaining formats year-over-year are in the religious space, with fourth-ranked contemporary Christian’s 27 added stations rivaling religion’s 30. For 2024-to-date, contemporary Christian has the most new outlets with nine, followed by fifth-ranked Spanish-language formats — which added 10 year-over-year — with four.

Aside from religion, contemporary Christian, and Spanish, only one other top 10-ranked format — eighth-ranked classic rock — is on the up-and-up, with both year-over-year and year-to-date growth, albeit with just two added stations in each case.

Country isn’t the only format with no net gain since last April or January. Third-ranked news/talk is down 17 outlets year-over-year, with no new stations year-to-date, while sixth-ranked variety (including stations with three or more distinct formats, either block-programmed or simultaneously) shed 13 since April 2023 and added none since January. Seventh-ranked classic hits and ninth-ranked sports are down in the double-digits, whichever way you look at it.

That leaves top 40, still ranked 10th, which added two year-over-year, while losing four year-to-date.

Only one of the three formats just below the top 10, 13th-ranked alternative rock, has brought in a new station since last April — just one, actually — although it has shed three since January (426-423). Adult contemporary, ranking 11th, is off by 13 outlets year-over-year (554-541) and flat year-to-date, while hot AC in 12th is down 16 from April 2023 (457-441) and four from January.

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