While country and news/talk claim the most stations in the U.S., according to Inside Radio's Format Counts monitor, the religion (including teaching and variety) and contemporary Christian formats continue to rank a strong third and fourth, respectively. Between the two, they've added a net 16 outlets from a year ago, with 21 new contemporary Christian stations.
What's the secret of these formats' success? Several of the largest owners and operators of these stations have a pretty good idea.
“The Contemporary Christian format continues to grow as new artists join the fold, and its positive influence on the family continues to be strong,” Salem Media Group Senior VP for spoken word formats Phil Boyce tells National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). “The Christian teach and talk format is amazingly stable and not subject to the blowing winds of other formats. It’s nice to see it solid as a rock.”
One owner seeing Contemporary Christian's growth first-hand is Educational Media Foundation, which added 11 “K-Love” stations in 2022, “People are hungry for hope and good news, and I believe the count of religious format stations reflects that,” EMF Chief Content Officer Jim Houser says. “There is enough fear, division, tragedy and chaos in the world. We see that audiences want a place to go where they can be encouraged and where their stress level is reduced, not escalated. People are seeking out truth and positivity, and the religious format delivers.”
Several broadcasters, including Salem, see not only continued gains in 2023 and beyond but also continuously-improving content. “This growth is truly good for all, and I am convinced that we have not seen the top,” says Kevin Anderson, Nashville-area General Manager for Salem Media Group. “The quality of the music is the best it has ever been. The content standard is at the highest level. I am proud to be a part of a company that is at the forefront of this growth.”