News/Talk/Sports Tops Radio Formats, Interep Analysis Reveals

The intensely divided electorate and the ongoing war in Iraq appear to be driving more listeners, and more station owners, to talk radio.

Radio sales firm Interep released the results of its Spring 2004 Radio audience format share analysis on Monday, revealing that the News/Talk/Sports format has extended its leadership position as the most pervasive radio format in the United States.

The latest share numbers place the News/Talk/Sports format at the top, pulling in an average of 17 percent of listenership among persons age 12-plus, based on Arbitron figures for total radio listening in 92 continuously measured metros. That share number is even higher than levels seen last spring, when the war in Iraq began. According to Interep, more stations than ever are programming News/Talk.

In the number two slot, the Spanish format category remains near its all-time high at 11.6, off slightly from its winter peak of 11.8. Within that category, the Mexican segment has continued to grow incrementally since last summer.



As more programmers gravitate to younger-adult-targeted formats once again, both CHR (Contemporary hits) and Urban have seen gains. CHR's share climbed two-tenths of a point to 11.2, while Urban's share rose by half a point to an 11.0. However, CHR is up two whole points versus a year ago, while Urban's share is actually down by almost the same number, as several dozen stations were reclassified last fall.

After slight declines in the past two quarters, both Country and New Rock rebounded to the levels achieved last summer, while Classic Rock and AOR (Album Rock) are stable--off just a tenth of a share point.

While Hot AC slipped slightly from its peak in the winter (from 3.5 to 3.3), the more broad AC (Adult Contemporary) category continues to slide, down to 9.2 from 9.7 year-over-year. Smooth Jazz has also experienced some erosion from the higher levels generated by the format during 2003.

The majority of smaller categories remained stable.

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