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What Format Has The Widest Audience Appeal? Hint: It’s Not CHR.


To say country radio is a “big tent format” with broad appeal that touches virtually all age groups would be a gross understatement. According to Nielsen’s freshly issued Audio Today report, Country is the most listened to radio format among nine discrete demos. Country rules the roost among adults 18+ (13.1 share), adults 18-34 (15.2 share), adults 25-54 (13.3), adults 18-49 (13.8), adults 25-54 (13.3), women 18-49 (14.4), women 25-54 (14.1), men 18-49 (13.2), and men 25-54 (12.6).


The 18-page report released this week also provides more evidence of the stranglehold Urban AC/R&B radio has on Black listeners. The format captures a stunning 31.1 share of the Black 18+ radio audience, a 30.7 share of Black Adults 18-34, a 27.7 share of Black Adults 25-54, and a 29.9 share of Black Teens 12-17.


Similarly, the Regional Mexican format has a lock on the nation’s growing Hispanic population. The cornerstone format achieved a 14.7 audience share among Hispanics 18+, a 12.9 share among Hispanic Adults 18-34, a 16.4 share with Hispanic Adults 25-54, and an 11.7 with Hispanic Teens 12-17.


When ranking radio formats based on their monthly reach, AC tops the bill with a monthly reach of 53.7 million people. Country is a close second, reaching 51.4 million Americans each month, followed by News/Talk (42.7 million), Pop CHR (40.7 million), and Classic Hits (39.6 million). A total of seven formats reach at least 30 million Americans each month.


Based on median age, Rhythmic CHR is radio’s youngest skewing format with a median age of 36, followed by Pop CHR (median age 38), Urban Contemporary / Hip-Hop/R&B (39) and Alternative (39). Classical hold the distinction of being radio’s oldest format with a median age of 60, followed by All News (58), News/Talk (58), Classic Hits (54), Classic Rock (52), All Sports (52) and Urban AC/R&B (51).


Inside Radio’s exclusive monthly Format Scorecard, published Monday, offers another view of radio’s top formats. It shows News/Talk consistently leads the league in persons 6+, Monday-Sunday, 6am-midnight in PPM markets, even as its audience share remains in a consistent downturn. Adult Contemporary, Country, Classic Hits and Classic Rock round out the top five among all listeners 6+. The Format Scorecard also shows three radio formats have maintained their momentum, year-over-year, and year-to date, with notable share growth: country, classic hits, and adult hits.

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