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20 Interesting Radio Station Demographics

Radio has been around for almost a century. As a commercial medium, it has offered new ways for people to be entertained, stay in touch with current events, and even learn new things. What makes it unique is that it can reach any person who has the ability to receive a signal.

92% of people who are aged 12 or older and have a radio will listen to it at least once per week for an extended period of time.

The amount of people that are reached by radio has changed very little over the generations. Even the amount of actual time listened to the radio has remained relatively stable. By understanding these radio station demographics, advertisers, researchers, and others can understand the influence this medium truly has.

What Formats Are Seeing The Most Success?

  • Country music radio stations are the #1 overall type of radio station in the US. They are also the #2 station for teen demographics.
  • Talk radio stations, including news and information stations, are the #2 type of format in the US. This type of station pulls high levels of high income listeners with higher levels of education.
  • 30% of teen girls listen to Pop Contemporary Hit radio stations at least once per week. 72 million US citizens tune into these stations at least once per week.
  • For people who listen to the radio during the middle of the day, Adult Contemporary/Soft Contemporary formats are the most popular with 69 million listeners.
  • 70% of adult men in the 45-54 age demographic prefer listening to Classic Rock radio stations, but this format is only ranked fourth amongst all men.
  • JACK-FM stations, which are typically a mix of hits from the 1980s and miscellaneous adult hits, have pulled a 2+ rating for 4 consecutive years in all demographics.
  • In comparison, formats such as the Blues, children’s radio, family hits, and nostalgia stations register a 0.0 overall rating.

What makes radio such an exciting format is the fact that people can quickly change their dial to a new station if they don’t like the song that is on. HD radio, streaming radio, and satellite radio also provide additional options from the traditional local radio station. Despite these options, however, local radio is still pulling strong ratings shares. This is why it is a medium that is ignored at your own risk when trying to reach out to any population demographic.

Do Religious Demographics Influence Radio?

  • There are 112 Christian Adult Contemporary radio stations registered in the United States, pulling a 0.4 share of the 12+ age demographic on a weekly basis.
  • Southern Gospel formats have 264 registered radio stations which pull a 0.3 weekly share in the targeted age demographic.
  • Traditional Gospel radio stations, of which there are 454, has a 0.7 share of the listening audience.
  • General religious stations, classified separately, have 1,739 registered radio stations which pull a 1.3 listener share.
  • Contemporary Inspirational stations, which may or may not offer religious content, provides an additional 224 radio stations and a 0.6 share.
  • Spanish religious stations in the US have 246 locations that add an additional 0.1 share to the religious demographics.
  • Contemporary Christian stations have 1,691 locations and a 2.9 share of the audience.

If you were to combine all of the religious categories together in the US for their listener share, it would become a 6.3 share of the overall weekly audience in the 12+ age demographic. This makes it the fifth most popular type of radio programming in the US today, ranking above Classic hits, Classic rock, and other forms of adult contemporary music not listed a “soft.” Not taking this demographic into account can create gaps in customer segment research that could negatively influence outcomes.

Why You Need to Know Your Target Audience

  • Employed mothers in the 25-44 age demographic are the primary listeners of religious radio stations.
  • Soft adult contemporary stations appeals to women in the 35-54 age demographic.
  • Adults in the 55+ age demographic prefer a declining format, called “Adult Standards,” which plays hits from artists like Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand.
  • Top 40 stations appeal to those in the 18-35 age demographic and these are the stations that translate directly into song downloads for this demographic.
  • Talk radio primarily targets men in the 45-54 demographic, just like Classic rock.

By knowing what demographics are listening to which radio station formats, it becomes possible to reach out to a huge customer segment without much effort. It’s the only medium people don’t have to look at and there’s no other major medium that can reach people in a vehicle. Even when at work, radio reaches people as often as internet advertising. Don’t be fooled into thinking that radio is going away. It’s been here for almost 100 years and will likely be around for another century at the very least.

Broadcasting Trends

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