Inside Radio: Country is still #1 Format in the U.S.


Country’s dominance of U.S. radio continued unabated in 2015, registering a fourth-consecutive year of growth in the number of stations airing the evergreen format. There were 2,125 country stations in December 2015, a 2% increase over 2014, according to Inside Radio’s PrecisionTrak database.

Country’s station count pivoted in 2012, when it reversed a five-year decline. It’s been climbing ever since.

“Country should remain very healthy,” says Hubbard Radio VP of programming Greg Strassell. But some wonder how long it can continue its momentum. “It is such a lifestyle format and that success will depend on its ability to continue to connect with its audience outside of the music,” says Jeff Sottolano, VP of programming, CBS Radio.

News/talk remained No. 2 with 1,354 outlets, a 3% decline from 2014. Based on station count, the format peaked in 2012 with 1,506 outlets and has been bleeding stations ever since. However, with a divided electorate heading into a crucial election, the format may gain some ground back this year. “But after this election, all bets are off,” says Justin Chase, Beasley Media Group’s VP of programming.

The number of Spanish-language stations jumped 4% last year to 872, to rank third. It was followed by classic hits, which grew to 850 outlets, up from 785 one year earlier. Sports dipped slightly to 780 to rank fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 are AC (sixth with 600 stations), CHR (seventh with 577), classic rock (eighth, 486), hot AC (ninth, 469) and oldies (tenth, 365).

Inside Radio

January 15, 2016