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Radio Format Scorecard: Classic Hits, Country And Adult Hits Set The Pace.

No matter how you slice it – whether looking at year-over-year, month-to-month, or key demo share trends – the classic hits radio format just keeps on growing.

That's the main takeaway from Inside Radio's monthly analysis of Nielsen's PPM cross-market average quarter-hour share data trends, covering Monday-Sunday 6am-midnight. Classic hits, the fourth-ranked format overall based on persons 6+ share for April 2023, and for January-April 2023, is up from January to April (5.6-6.0) and from Jan-Apr 2021 to Jan.-Apr. 2023 (5.5-5.9). Over the first four months of this year, the format's share has also gained significantly among persons 18-49 (4.7-5.1) and 25-54 (5.1-5.7).

Helping to power classic hits' growth are share-gainers such as Audacy's “Big 98.1” WOGL Philadelphia, and Desert Valley Media's “The Wow Factor” KOAI Phoenix.

While country, which ranks third overall year-to-date and in April, gained just 0.1 from YTD21 to YTD23, Jan.-Apr. shares are up in 6+ (6.0-6.5), 18-34 (7.2-7.5), 18-49 (6.4-6.9) and 25-54 (also 6.4-6.9), with the format ranking second in the latter demographic. Among country's gainers this year are Cumulus Media's “99.5 The Wolf” KPLX Dallas, and iHeart country “US 103.5” WFUS Tampa.

Like classic hits, adult hits displays growth both ways, up YTD 2021-23 (2.4-2.7) and Jan.-Apr. In both 6+ (2.5-2.8) and 25-54 (2.7-3.0).

Since January of this year, other demo gainers include rhythmic CHR, up from 0.3-0.5 in 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54, and four other formats in 18-34: CHR, urban contemporary, urban AC, and regional Mexican, the latter of which may be due to the popularity of Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma's “Ella Baila Sola,” which in April became the first regional Mexican song to chart in the top five of Billboard's Hot 100.

In addition to classic hits and adult hits, key 6+ gainers from Jan.-Apr. 2021-2023 include adult contemporary (7.7-8.4), classic rock (5.1-5.4), sports (3.8-4.5), and urban contemporary (2.7-3.0). As noted in earlier analyses, top-ranked news/talk is down significantly YTD from 2021 to 2023 (12.1-10.2) given a strong first half of 2021 due to the Capitol insurrection and the continuing COVID pandemic.

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