While much has changed in the radio universe over the past 12 months, the latest format counts from Inside Radio for the month of April show Country, News/Talk and Religion still far-and-away leading the field, just as they did in the infancy of the pandemic a year ago. The Country format remains in front with 2,207 outlets, a 1% gain from last April, while News/Talk stations, which hit the 2,000 mark during the Presidential election month of November, make a 1.2% gain from a year ago to reach 2,023 signals in April.
Religion, rounding out the top three, is represented by 2,010 stations, bringing the total for these three formats to 6,240, up from 6,213 in April 2020. While the Religion format, which includes Teaching and Variety, includes 22 fewer stations from a month ago, this is due to re-classification of most of these stations as Contemporary Christian, Gospel or another religion-based format. As a result, Contemporary Christian, the fourth-ranked format with 1,316 stations in April, pulls further ahead of Variety, thanks to an additional 43 classified in the format compared to a year ago.
Total stations in the fifth-ranked Variety category, including many non-commercial FM outlets and AM frequencies, are down from a year ago, with a loss of 18 stations for a 1.4% decline to 1,254. Spanish-language, in sixth, continues its growth trend with a 2% gain in stations from April 2020, to 1,232.
Classic Hits may still rank at seventh, but the format's greater appeal during the pandemic, with many stations topping local market ratings, results in a significant 3.6% gain in total stations, with 40 more from a year ago for a total of 1,163 outlets in April. On the other hand, Sports, which remains eighth, has shown ratings declines nationally and loses 35 stations for a total of 656, a 5.1% drop.
Although ninth-ranked Top 40 benefits from five additional stations moving to the format since March, year-to-year its station total is essentially flat, from 624 in April 2020 to this month's 620. Also virtually flat is Classic Rock, in tenth place, with 590 outlets in April compared to 587 a year ago and 589 in March.
Just below the top 10 is Adult Contemporary with 566 stations, off 2.6% from 581 a year ago, and Hot AC, with a 2.5% decrease, from 482 to 470 outlets.