Radio Stations

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Number of Radio Station by Type

There were a total of 15,451 radio stations in the US as of September 2019. Unfortunately, there is no information in the public domain, revealing the breakdown of these stations by category. Instead, the research team identified reports of the most significant talk-related, music-related, and sports-related radio stations in the US.

BREAKDOWN OF COMMERCIAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL RADIO STATIONS IN THE US

HELPFUL RESEARCH FINDINGS

  • Nielsen Audio, through its Station Ratings directory, provides audience estimates of radio stations that subscribe to its service. This directory list radio stations in different states and cities of the USA based on their audience size but not by category.
  • A study by Talk Stream Live (TSL) listed the top 50 most-influential talk show radio hosts in the US in 2018, including Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and others. Unfortunately, the study did not provide the total number of radio stations in this category; neither was there information specific to non-commercial or commercial talk show stations.
  • A report by My-Radios listed 199 music radio stations on its list of top music radio stations in the US; however, the report did not provide the overall number of stations in this category or insights into commercial or non-commercial stations.
  • Cision observed WHTZ-FM, KIIS-FM, WKQI-FM, WWPW-FM, KMVQ-FM, and others to be among the most significant music radio stations in the US, as of July 2019. Unfortunately, the total number of stations in this category was not provided; neither was there information specific to non-commercial or commercial talk show stations.
  • According to a report by Statista, the top 10 sports-related radio stations in the US include WIP, KDKA, WFAN, WIZ-FM, KNBR, and others. The report does not have the overall number of sports-related radio stations in the US.
  • A study by Nielsen revealed that in the United States, radio reaches 243 million people aged 18 years and above per month, which is higher than the reach of other types of digital destinations.

RESEARCH STRATEGY:

The research team began by investigating government-related directories with the hope of identifying reports with the needed breakdown of the number of commercial and non-commercial radio stations in the US. This investigation produced a report by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) listing the total number of radio stations in the US. Unfortunately, the breakdown did not have details for different categories such as talk shows, music-related stations, sports-related stations, or others. Also, we found a report by the US Bureau of Statistics, but it only had data on wages in the US radio industry and nothing related to the needed information. From this research, we observed that at the federal or state level, no information in the public domain categorizes radio stations in the US.

However, we proceeded to investigate credible independent surveys or studies in the US, hoping to identify insights into the number of radio stations in the US based on categories. This time, we located studies by Nielsen, which examined the reach of radio in the US and Talk Stream Live (TSL) that studied the talk radio shows in the United States based on their audience size. Again, these reports did not reveal the total number of radio stations in the US based on category; neither was there information specific to non-commercial or commercial radio stations.

Finally, we switched strategies to research radio stations in the US by categories such as talk shows, music-related stations, sports-related stations, and others, respectively. This time, we hoped to find data revealing the number of stations in each category in the United States. Here, we discovered reports by several media directories, including Radio Net, My-Radios, Statista, Cision, List 25, and others, which revealed the most significant radio stations in the US by category. Still, there was no information showing the total number of radio stations in the US in each category. Also, there was no information specific to non-commercial or commercial radio stations in each category.

Hence, the research revealed that, at the state or independent level, data pertinent to the number of commercial and non-commercial radio stations in the US by category is not available in the public domain, indicating that such information is yet to be compiled. Due to the lack of the needed data, we provided some helpful findings found from our investigation, as a proxy for the required information.
Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • "Nielsen Audio does not release audience estimates for stations that do not pay for ratings. So the only audience estimates available on this website are for stations that subscribe in each local market. Therefore, while ratings are accurate, rankings include only paid subscribers. Some non-subscribers may or may not be ranked higher than those posted on this site."
Quotes
  • "By using Nielsen Scarborough to group together the monthly reach figures for various kinds of websites (including search, social media, video and several others), we see that radio’s monthly 18+ reach (243 million) is larger than the combined reach of different types of digital destinations."