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Religion, Contemporary Christian, Spanish Stay Strong, Adding More Stations.

The three most-programmed radio formats, according to Inside Radio/PrecisionTrak's counts for September, continue to tell a tale of three formats in different stages: holding steadily, healthy growth, and continued decline, respectively.

As has been the case for the past year, country still leads the pack comfortably, ahead of second-ranked religion (including teaching and variety formats) by 173 stations, even as it adds just two outlets since September 2022 and none year-to-date. Religion, meanwhile, has added the most stations either way, 31 year-over-year and 25 in 2023, translating to 1.5% and 1.2% increases. News/talk, which has slipped from second to third over the past year, has shed eight outlets since last September and 11 since January.

While religion leads in terms of total station adds, fourth- and fifth-ranked contemporary Christian and Spanish-language formats are right behind, as the former brings in 30 more stations over the past 12 months (+2.2%) and 18 year-to-date (+1.3%), and the latter 17 (+1.3) and 10 (+0.8%). Only one other format in the top 10, seventh-ranked classic hits, shows added stations in the double-digits, adding 10 (+0.8%) year-over-year or year-to-date.

The top seven remain the only formats with 1,000-or-more total stations. Classic rock, which ranks eighth with 53% of classic hits' total outlets, manages to stay in the plus column, adding just three since January. In addition to news/talk, sixth-ranked variety (including eclectic-formatted non-commercial FM or brokered AM stations), and ninth- and 10th-ranked sports and top 40, also show fewer stations than in September 2022 or January 2023, with only news/talk shedding 10 or more.

Just below the top 10, the next three formats – adult contemporary, hot AC, and alternative rock – show declines in all but one measure. AC, with 543 stations, 43 fewer than top 40, is down eight year-over-year and 10 year-to-date, with 12th-ranked hot AC at 453, off by nine and five stations respectively. While alternative rock at 426 has lost a net four outlets since September 2023, it's gained back two since January.

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