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Format Counts: Country Still Leads, While Religion Shows The Biggest Gains.


While the order of the 10 most programmed formats in M Street Corp./Inside Radio's monthly Format Counts monitor for July remains unchanged from June – with country, religion and news/talk still at Nos. 1, 2, and 3 – three of these ten formats display notable growth trends, whether year-over-year or since January 2023.


The religion category, which includes teaching and variety-formatted stations, has added the most outlets, up a net 35 (+1.7%) since last July and 19 (+0.9%) since January. Right behind is fourth-ranked contemporary Christian, adding 27 (+2.0%) and 15 (+1.1%), while Spanish formats, which combine to place fifth, have added 24 (+1.9%) year-over-year and 11 (+0.9%) since the beginning of this year.


The only other two formats showing growth both ways, even if adding just a few stations, are country, which gains one from a year ago and a net three since January, and eighth-ranked classic rock, adding three and one, respectively. Trending in the other direction are news/talk, shedding four outlets year-over-year and six from January, and ninth-ranked sports, off by five either way. Top 40, in 10th place, has lost the most from a year ago, down by 10, but has gained one station year-to-date, while the variety category, encompassing eclectic-formatted non-commercial FM or brokered AM stations, shows two fewer outlets since January.


Country maintains its commanding lead over runner-up religion, ahead by 157 stations, although it's a tighter race between religion and formerly-second-ranked news/talk, with the two separated by just 11 outlets. Only the top three continue to boast more than 2,000 stations each, while the next four in the top 10 – contemporary Christian, Spanish, variety and classic hits – are in the 1,000-station club.


At eighth and ninth, classic rock and sports, which were tied last July, remain close together, with classic rock ahead by just eight stations in the current count. Top 40 remains the only top 10 format with a station total under 600, which has been the case for the past year.


Looking below the top 10, adult contemporary, the only other format with 500 or more stations, has stayed steady at 11th with a 548 total since May, although down from January's 553. Hot AC, 12th-ranked with 456 stations, is down either way, from July 2022's 461 and January's 458. Alternative rock, the only other format with 400 or more outlets, stands at 423, down eight from a year ago and one from January.

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