Country and News/Talk remain the two most programmed formats on AM/FM radio, according Inside Radio's monthly monitor of Format Counts. While Country's station total is off by just three (-0.1%) from a year ago, News/Talk has added 41 stations for a 2.1% year-over-year gain.
Third- and fourth-ranked as usual are Religion, including Teaching and Variety, and Contemporary Christian, with total stations for both formats at 3,331 in September 2020 and 3,325 this month, amounting to a negligible 0.2% decrease. Note that the year-over-year decline in Religion-formatted stations is principally due to the breaking out of Inspirational Gospel as a separate format beginning in October 2020. Contemporary Christian's total is up 2.3% year-over-year, adding 30 stations since last September.
Classic Hits and Classic Rock, the seventh- and 10th-ranked formats with 1,167 and 596 stations in September 2021 respectively, show the most impressive growth in total stations from a year ago. Classic Hits, which has been top-rated in many major markets throughout the summer, added 29 stations for a 2.5% gain, while Classic Rock brought 15 more stations into the fold for a 2.6% increase.
The Sports format continues to lose stations, with 28 having left the format from September 2020 for a 4.1% decline. Also showing a total station decrease is Top 40, losing eight from last September and off 1.3%, and Adult Contemporary, with 12 stations departing for a 2.1% decrease.
Looking at other formats inside the top 10, Variety, including many non-commercial FM and AM outlets, is off 0.7% with a loss of 9 stations year-over-year, while total Spanish-language formats are up 1.6%, with 20 new stations from September.
In summary, the order of the top 10 U.S. radio formats based on the number of stations stays the same as in August, with Country on top with 2,193 outlets and News/Talk in second with 2,039. Religion places third with 2,010 stations followed by Contemporary Christian's 1,315. The rest of the top 10 are, in order, Variety (1,257), Spanish (1,241), Classic Hits (1,167), Sports (652), Top 40 (613) and Classic Rock (596).