Listing of Radio Formats and their Descriptions

For their purposes, the Radio Marketing Bureau Inc. of Canada and BBM Canada (Bureau of Broadcast Measurement) recognized a list of “standard” formats designed to characterize narrowly-defined target audiences.

Adult Contemporary
Music includes soft rock, light rock, soft pop. Certain on air personalities are “promoted” but generally the music is the message.

Hot Adult Contemporary 
Includes Modern Adult Pop/Contemporary Hit Radio – more current than above.

Classic/Mainstream Rock
Includes Adult Oriented Rock, Mainstream Rock – will appeal to an older age group than above.

Modern/Alternative Rock
Includes more Alternative Rock – more current yet again – usually a younger profile.

Mainstream Top 40/Contemporary Hit Radio 
Includes Dance, Contemporary Hit Radio, Current Hits.

More easily defined – Includes Reggae, Rhythm & Blues as well as Hip Hop – younger.

Little emphasis on music in many markets – includes talk and some open line – features longer Newscasts and Business information.

Includes Play-by-Play, Sporting Events and Sports Talk – Open Line.

Includes all Country Music Both Old and New.

Includes Classic Hits, music from earlier years.

Classical/Fine Arts
Includes Concert Music, discussion of the arts and related topics.

Adult Standards
Music includes Big Bands and a lot of Nostalgia.

Includes a wide variety of Jazz music, smooth, up-tempo, old/new and the Blues.

Includes Gospel, also Inspirational Music and Talk.

Includes specific culture/language focus as well as multi-cultural – much block programming.

Includes a variety of block programs of music and information appealing to a wide variety of listeners.

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And with each passing day – promotion departments in radio stations are creating new phrases to re-launch formats.

John Gorman – December, 2000