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Format Counts: Country Still Has The Most Stations, Adding 10 More Since January.


While it's been a rough road for country in the past year, the format is on the rise since January. The perennial leader in Inside Radio’s monthly Format Counts monitor of U.S. stations may have lost 17 outlets during the fourth quarter of 2021, but it's added back 10 since the beginning of this year for a net loss of just seven stations, or a 0.3% decrease.


Country still leads news/talk in total stations, in October by 157 outlets, giving it a 12.4% share of total stations vs. news/talk's 11.5%. Unlike country, news/talk has not shown any station gains, having lost 13 from a year ago and 15 since January, for 0.6% and 0.7% declines respectively.


As a result, news/talk's share is just 0.1 ahead of religion (encompassing teaching- and variety-based stations) at 11.4%, while that format has also lost outlets, down by six year-over-year and seven since January.


Overall, the big gainers continue to be classic rock and classic hits, having added 39 and 22 new stations respectively in the past year. For classic hits, which ranks seventh with a 6.8% share of total stations, that amounts to 1.9% growth year-over-year and 1.3% since January. For classic rock, eighth-ranked at a 3.6% share, those same gains, at 6.5% and 2.9%, lead all other formats.


Two other formats in the top 10, fourth-ranked contemporary Christian and fifth-ranked Spanish, are also strictly in growth mode. The former, with a 7.6% share of total stations, added a net 13 outlets, up 1.0% from either last October or January. Spanish-language formatted stations, at a 7.2% share, added 18 for a 1.4% gain year-over-year and 0.7% year-to-date.


On the minus side are: top 40/CHR, with a 3.4% share and shedding 28 stations since Oct. 2021, off by 4.5% year-over-year and 3.4% since Jan. 2022; sports at 3.6%, losing 21 outlets and down 3.2% since last October and 2.2% since January; and variety (including mostly non-commercial FM or brokered AM stations), at a 7.0% share with 19 fewer stations, down 1.5% and 1.0%.


There's little movement just below the top 10. Eleventh-ranked adult contemporary loses one outlet from a year ago and gains one since the first of the year, hot AC adds one station from last October but loses six since January, and alternative sheds four year-over-year and two in calendar 2022, including just this past week Audacy's “Alt 92.3” WNYL New York.

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