Radio is a personal medium. Listeners develop a relationship with their favorite radio stations. For many, it becomes a part of their day, their routine and their experience. Because of this, radio creates a level of influence and loyalty not experienced by other media.
Radio listeners have a wide variety of preferences. Flip around the dial and you may be surprised by how many radio stations there are, and how many types of programming formats exist today. The radio industry is a competitive marketplace, and it’s only getting more competitive. Terrestrial radio stations are still the flagship source for this medium, but now they compete with satellite radio, web radio, and HD radio, not to mention the other choices for audio entertainment, from portable mp3 devices, mobile streaming and other new technologies.
It takes a combination of art and science to be a successful program director of a radio station. PDs spend a lot of time tweaking their programming to please the greatest number of targeted listeners. After all, the more listeners the radio station has, the more money they can charge advertisers for spots.
There are many radio stations dedicated to very narrow programming formats. Their programming and selling propositions are focused on the quality of their highly targeted listeners.
Today, Arbitron recognizes over 50 radio formats. And as interests and tastes evolve, so do radio formats. For example, the Beautiful Music format was popular for many years, but today it has virtually disappeared (I would argue that it was replaced by Smooth Jazz). And formats like Adult Album Alternative or even Sports Talk haven’t been around that long relative to others.
When you consider how to target your radio advertising, it’s a good idea to be aware of the many formats that exist. Here is a combined list of recognized radio formats:
Adult Album Alternative (Adult Alternative, AAA or Triple-A)
Adult Contemporary (AC)
Adult Standards / Middle of the Road (MOR) / Nostalgia (pre-rock)
Album Oriented Rock (AOR)
Contemporary Christian (CCM)
Contemporary Classical Music
Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR), Top-40 / Hot Hits
Dance (dance top-40)
Freeform Radio (DJ-selected)
Full-service (talk and variety music)
Hot Adult Contemporary (Hot AC)
Lite Adult Contemporary (Lite AC)
Modern Adult Contemporary (Modern AC)
New AC (NAC )
New Country/Young Country
Pop Contemporary Hit Radio
Quiet Storm (Urban stations, i.e. 7p-12 midnight)
Rhythmic Adult Contemporary
Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio
Rock en Español
Romántica (Spanish AC)
Soft Adult Contemporary (soft AC)
Spanish Adult Hits
Spanish Contemporary Christian
Tejano (Texas/Mexican music)
Tropical (salsa, merengue, cumbia, etc.)
Urban Adult Contemporary (Urban AC)
Urban Contemporary (rap, hip hop, soul, and R&B)
As a direct response advertiser, where do you start? How do you choose the best stations or formats to generate sales? At Target + Response, we can guide you along.