Female-Focused Formats: AC, Hot AC, Urban AC, and CHR

[Please keep in mind that when we are talking about large groups of people, there are many counter-examples. Not every member of every demographic group listens to the same kind of music and radio programming. Descriptions of demographic groups should never be used as the basis for stereotyping.]

Women drive between 70% and 80% of all consumer spending in the United States. Radio stations that deliver female listeners to advertisers have an advantage in generating ad revenue. 

In my experience, there are significantly more agency-driven radio advertising buys that target exclusively women than exclusively men. This drives radio groups to build their roster of radio station formats to cater to women from teenage years to senior citizenship. 

In Oklahoma City, no one radio station group has cornered the market of female listeners. All of the groups have stations that effectively reach female listeners of various age groups. 

Contemporary Hit Radio or CHR

CHR formatted stations are often referred to as top 40 stations. This format plays a tight rotation of current hits, representing popular music of pop-rock, dance, R&B, pop, and hip hop genres.  

This format is the direct descendant of class top 40 radio pioneered by Todd Storz, former owner of KOMA. 

It is common for a high-rotation song to repeat as frequently as 90 minutes to two hours. 

Because of the fleeting nature of popular music, CHR stations don’t have longstanding core artists like older-focused formats. 

CHR stations feature upbeat presentation and young, hip personalities. Some CHR stations even go so far as to subtly speed up the songs 2% to 3% in order to sound faster than their competitors. 

There are variations of the CHR format, including rhythmic CHR, which focuses on dance, R&B, non-rock pop music, and hip hop. 

In Oklahoma City, KJ103, KJYO is a CHR formatted station. It is owned by iHeartMedia. 

Cumulus Media’s Wild 104.9 is a rhythmic CHR station. 

Advertising on a CHR formatted stations can advantageous because they generally have the most total number of listeners. However, the average amount of time for each listening session is shorter than other formats. 

Adult Contemporary Radio or AC

If CHR represents the young end of the female demographic, then Adult Contemporary is the older end. 

AC radio is designed to be unoffensive. It is the modern descendant of soft rock and easy listening. 

Stations in the AC music format avoid music that is abrasive to the average female listener. There is little hard rock, hip hop, and dance music. 

While CHR stations focus exclusively on new music, AC stations play mostly older and established songs and artists, such as Celine Dion, Elton, John, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel, and Whitney Houston. 

Many AC stations also play new adult contemporary music that sounds congruent next to the older hits. To see the new songs that are popular on AC stations, check out Billboard Magazine’s AC chart

In Oklahoma City, Magic 104.1, KMGL is an AC formatted radio station. It is owned by Tyler Media. 

Magic 104.1 features mostly local personalities during the day and the nationally popular Delilah radio program in the evening. 

Advertising on adult contemporary radio stations can be advantageous because the older female demographic has tremendous consumer buying power. However, AC radio often falls to the background, and commercial messages aren’t absorbed because listeners are paying attention to other things. 

Hot Adult Contemporary or Hot AC

With CHR bookending the younger part of the age spectrum and AC on the older end, the Hot AC format is right in the middle. 

Hot AC plays more new hit music than AC but it also avoids overly strident music in the rock and hip hop genres. 

KYIS, 98.9 KISS-FM is a Hot AC formatted station in Oklahoma City. It is owned and operated by Cumulus Media. 

Urban Adult Contemporary

The urban adult contemporary radio format is a variation of AC that plays a mix of classic R&B and contemporary R&B that isn’t overly strident. Generally speaking, urban AC stations don’t play new hip hop. 

In Oklahoma City, KRMP 1130 AM (with a translator at 92.1 FM) is an urban AC station, owned and operated by Perry Publishing and Broadcasting. 

Known as Heart & Soul 92.1 & 1140, this station, like many urban AC stations around the nation, features the syndicated Tom Joyner program in the morning. At night, listeners enjoy the nationally popular Quiet Storm program which plays romantic R&B and smooth jazz.