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TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Monday, April 22, 2002

Guide to Radio Station Formats

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Symbol Format Name Description Demographics
AC Adult Contemporary An adult-oriented pop/rock station with no hard rock, often with a greater emphasis on non-current music and softer hits from the 1980s and 1990s Women ages 25  to 54
AH Hot AC, Adult Contemporary Hits A more up-tempo, contemporary hits format, with no hard rock and no rap Adults ages 25 to 34
AP Adult Alternative Eclectic rock, often with wide variations in musical style Adults ages 25 to  44
AR Album Rock Mainstream rock & roll, which can include guitar-oriented “heavy metal” Men ages 25 to 44
AS Adult Standards Standards and older, non-rock popular music from the 1940s to the 1980s, which can include softer current popular music Adults ages 35+
BG Black Gospel Current gospel songs and sermons geared toward African-Americans Adults ages 35+
CH Contemporary Hits, Top-4O Current popular music, often encompassing a variety of rock styles, with CH-RB indicating dance contemporary hits, CH-AR indicating rock-based contemporary hits and CH-NR indicating new rock or modern rock based contemporary hits Teens & Adults ages 20 to 24
CR Classic Rock Rock oriented oldies, often mixed with album cuts from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Men ages 25 to 44
CW Country Country music, including contemporary and traditional styles, CW-OL is country oldies Adults ages 25+
CZ Classic Hits A rock-based oldies format, focusing on the 1970s Adults ages 25 to 44
EZ Easy Listening Primarily instrumental cover versions of popular songs, with more uptempo varieties of this format including soft rock originals, which may be mixed with “smooth jazz” or adult standards Adults ages 35 +
ET Ethnic Programs geared to various ethnicities, 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 ages 35+
JZ Jazz Mostly instrumental, often mixed with Soft AC, which includes both traditional jazz and “smooth jazz” or “new AC” Adults ages 25+
MA Modern AC An adult-oriented softer modern rock format with less heavy, guitar-oriented music than the younger new rock Mostly Women ages 25 to 44
MT Financial Talk All financial or “money-talk” Adults ages 35+
NR New Rock, Modern Rock Current rock, mainstream “alternative” and heavier guitar oriented hits Teens & Adults  ages 20 to 35
NX News All-news, either local or network in origin, with stations also having this description if a significant block of time is devoted to news Adults ages 35+
OL Oldies Popular music, usually rock-oriented, with 80% or more, non-current music, with CW-OL indicating country oldies and RB-OL indicating R & B oldies Adults ages 25 to 55
PT Pre-teen Music, drama or readings intended primarily for a pre-teen audience Children ages 12 & under
RB R&B, Urban Covers a wide range of musical styles geared toward African Americans, which can also be called “urban contemporary” or “hip-hop” Teens & Adult ages 20 to 24
RC Religious Contemporary Modern and rock-based religious music All ages
RG Religious Gospel Traditional religious music Adults ages 25+
RL Religion Local or syndicated religious programming, often spoken-word, sometimes mixed with music Adults ages 25+
SA Soft Adult Contemporary A cross between adult contemporary and easy listening, primarily non-current, soft rock originals Mostly Women ages 25+
SB Soft Urban Contemporary Soft R&B, sometimes mixed with smooth jazz, often heavy in oldies Adults ages 35+
SG Southern Gospel Country flavored gospel music, also includes the “Christian country” or “positive country” format Adults ages 25+
SS Spanish Spanish-language programming, often paired with another type of programming, with equivalents of English formats including: 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 ages 25+
TK Talk Talk, either local or network in origin, which can be telephone-talk, interviews, information or a mix Adults ages 25+
VA Variety Incorporating four or more distinct formats, either block-programmed or airing simultaneously All ages

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