For stations having flipped formats in the past year, classic rock, classic hits and Spanish-language-based formats have proven to be the most attractive options, based on Inside Radio's latest Format Counts monitor of U.S. stations for May 2022. The three format categories show the largest year-over-year growth, and all three continue to add more stations in 2022-to-date.
Classic rock's is the standout story, having added 40 outlets since May 2021 for a 6.8% increase, with ten more since January 2022 – six of those just in the past month – for a 1.6% gain. In the process, the format has passed top 40 in the overall count rankings, moving from 10th to ninth, where it's been since January. Classic hits, having added 19 stations since May 2021 and 12 since January, still places seventh, though far ahead of eighth-ranked sports in terms of total stations.
Year-over-year, Spanish-language-formatted stations are up 2.4%, having added 30 outlets. Since January 2022, that's pushed its rank up to fifth, knocking the variety format category (including many non-commercial FM and AM outlets) out of the top five. Growth continues to be steady, with three more Spanish stations added from January to May of this year.
Country remains on top, even with a year-over-year loss of 19 stations, although the format seems to be bouncing back in 2022 so far, having added 12 outlets since January including three since April. News/talk is still a strong second, although its total has fluctuated over the past year, resulting in a net gain of five stations, including seven lost since the first of the year.
While the religion format (including teaching and variety) still ranks third, total stations are trending down, off by 10 year-over-year and seven since January. It's the opposite situation for contemporary Christian, which has added nine stations since May 2021 and six since January, three of those from April to May.
As for the rest of the formats inside the top 10, variety, sports and top 40 all show total station declines year-over-year and since the beginning of this year. Below the top 10, adult contemporary at 11th has lost 11 stations since last May while gaining back four since January, while 12th-ranked hot AC is off by four stations either way, and alternative rock in 13th has lost five outlets year-over-year and two since January.