Symbol Format Name Description Demographics
AC Adult Contemporary An adult-oriented pop/rock station with no hard rock, often a greater emphasis on non-current music Women 25-54
AH Hot AC or “Adult CHR” A more up-tempo, contemporary hits format, with no hard rock and no rap Adults 25-34
AP Adult Alternative Eclectic rock, often with wide variations in musical style Adults 25-44
AR Album Rock Mainstream rock & roll, can include guitar-oriented “heavy metal” Men 25-44
AS Adult Standards Standards and older, non-rock popular music from the 1940s to the 1980s, often includes softer current popular music Adults 35+
BG Black Gospel Current gospel songs and sermons Adults 35+
CH Contemporary Hit Radio (Top-4O) Current popular music, often encompassing a variety of rock styles, CH-R-B is dance CHR, CH-AR is rock-based CHR and CH-NR is new rock or modern rock based CHR Teens & Adults 20-24
CR Classic Rock Rock oriented oldies, often mixed with hit oldies of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Men 25-44
CW Country Country music, including contemporary and traditional styles, CW-OL is country oldies Adults 25+
CZ Classic Hits A rock-based oldies format, focusing on the 1970s Adults 25-44
EZ Easy Listening Primarily instrumental cover versions of popular songs with more up-tempo varieties of this format including soft rock originals, may be mixed with “smooth jazz” or adult standards Adults 35+
ET Ethnic Programs primarily in languages other than English Variety of Ages
FA Fine Arts — Classical Fine arts “classical” music often includes opera, theater and/or culture-oriented news and talk Adults 35+
FX Farm News and Talk Farm news, weather and information Men 25+
JZ Jazz Mostly instrumental, often mixed with Soft AC, includes both traditional jazz and “smooth jazz” or “new AC” Adults 25+
MA Modern AC An adult-oriented modern rock format with less heavy, guitar-oriented music than the younger new rock Mostly Women 25-44
MT Financial Talk All financial or “money-talk” Adults 25+
NR New Rock — Modern Rock Current rock, mainstream “alternative” and heavier guitar oriented hits Teens & Adults 20-35
NX News All-news, either local or network in origin, stations may also have this description if a significant block of time is devoted to news Adults 35+
OL Oldies Popular music, usually rock, with 80% or greater non-current music, CW-OL indicates country oldies and RB-OL indicates R & B oldies Adults 25-55
PT Pre-teen Music, drama or readings intended primarily for a pre-teen audience Children 12 & Under
RB R & B — Urban Covers a wide range of musical styles, can also be called “urban contemporary” Teens & Adult 20-24
RC Religious — Contemporary Modern and rock-based religious music All Ages
RG Religious — Gospel Traditional religious music, BG indicates black-oriented and SG indicates country-oriented “southern gospel” Adults 25+
RL Religion Local or syndicated religious programming, sometimes mixed with music Adults 20+
SA Soft Adult Contemporary A cross between adult contemporary and easy listening, primarily non-current, soft rock originals Mostly Women 25+
SB Soft Urban Contemporary Soft R & B sometimes mixed with smooth jazz, often heavy in oldies Adults 35+
SG Southern Gospel Country flavored gospel music, also includes the “Christian country” or “positive country” format Adults 25+
SS Spanish Spanish-language programming, often paired another type of programming, equivalents of English formats include: SS-EZ (easily listening); SS-CH (contemporary hits); SS-AC (“modern” music); SS-NX-TK (news-talk); SS-RA (ranchero music); SS-TP (salsa, tropical); SS-TJ (tejano); SS-MX (regional Mexican); or SS-VA (variety) All Ages
SX Sports Listed only if all or a substantial block of a broadcast day is devoted to play-by-play, sports news, interviews, or telephone talk Men 25+
TK Talk Talk, either local or network in origin, can be telephone-talk, interviews, information, or a mix Adults 25+
VA Variety Incorporating four or more distinct formats, either block-programmed or airing simultaneously All Ages

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Radio Format Analysis

Radio offers something for everyone! Popularity of Radio programming has varied over the years. Below is a list of the current most popular formats airing on over 10,600 commercial stations* licensed in the United States today.

Radio’s Most Popular Formats

Total Commercial Stations in Operation – 10569

Number of Stations on the Air Broadcasting in HD – 995

Number of Streaming Radio Stations – 3815