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Saturday, February 28, 2015



Variety drives adult-classic hits format.


High cumes and a loyal core audience make it radio’s most listened to format in this year’s PPM Format Norms Study. On average, the 31 classic hits, 20 adult hits and three ‘80s hits stations in the 30-market study reach nearly one in five 6+ listeners a week. That makes it fourth out of 20 formats in cume, rivaling CHR, AC and hot AC.

What’s driving this extraordinary reach? “A lot of people are still struggling and a lot of the music from both formats brings back memories of better days,” CBS Radio VP of classic hits programming Brian Thomas says. “The common denominator is they’re both offering the biggest music variety on the FM dial.” While adult/classic hits finishes near the bottom of the heap in overall Time Spent Listening, it ranks seventh in TSL among P1s at seven hours and 38 minutes a week. Not a drive-by, adult/classic hits has become a destination format. “They have a lot of incidental listening which helps, but their success is driven by high TSL among their core listeners,” Research Director, Inc. partner Charlie Sislen says.

The classic hits format does more than just play music that resonates with the country’s largest population segment. It also provides companionship from personalities with decades of market longevity, such as WRBQ, Tampa’s Mason Dixon and WCBS-FM, New York’s Dan Taylor. “There’s just enough companionship in an era when, sadly, too many stations are voicetracked,” Thomas says. Of course, most adult hits don’t have any personalities at all, often relying on Howard Cogan’s snarky Jack character to provide just the right amount of sarcasm (“Hey, Reseda, what’s with the hairline?”) to connect a playlist that pushes the edge of the envelope in musical variety.

AC remains the at-work listening king in the PPM Format Norms 2010 Study with a 5.3 6+ AQH share in middays. But adult/classic hits isn’t far behind, ranked second with a 4.6, based on an average of the January-September 2010 PPM surveys (see graph, next page). Strong across dayparts, middays have emerged as adult/classic hits’ highest performing daypart. Many major market ACs have sped up rotations on their current songs, making them a less desirable at-work listening choice, Thomas contends. “Offices get sick of hearing the same songs over and over,” he says. “The beauty of classic and adult hits is you can listen all day at work and not hear any repeats.”

While slightly younger and decidedly more male than AC, classic/adults hits’ demographic core is 45-54, accounting for 26.9% of the average station’s AQH audience composition. No other format has a higher percentage. That demo lines right up with the country’s Baby Boom population bulge. “That’s the bulls eye,” Thomas says. “You need to be No. 1 or No. 2 in 45-54 to be successful in 25-54 in the format.” But adult/classic hits has an equal spillover on either side: 18.9% of the average station’s audience is 35-44 and an equal percentage is 55-64.

Download all of the study’s adult/classic hits graphs HERE.



More from the largest study ever on how individual radio formats perform under electronic measurement in tomorrow’s Inside Radio.

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