R&B tops radio formats

Rhythm and blues is the country's dominant radio format for the second time in two years, adult contemporary is suffering from the spread of '80s stations, and the once-hot "jammin' oldies" sound has almost disappeared.

That's the conclusion of Billboard Airplay Monitor's latest survey of radio formats, based on the quarterly Arbitron ratings. News/talk is still No. 1, holding its position even after the tumultuous fall election period was over, and classic rock is coming on strong.

Adult contemporary has been on a downward trend for a while, according to Airplay Monitor editor Sean Ross. At the same time, R&B; in all its forms � mainstream, urban adult contemporary, and R&B; oldies � has been strong for a few years, he said. Now, probably because of the sudden growth of stations focusing on music from the '80s adult contemporary has taken a big hit, plunging from a 13.2 share of the audience to 12.8, while R&B; climbed slightly, to 13.0 from 12.8.

Even as the overall R&B; audience has grown, the once-popular "jammin' oldies" format, based on soul crossover hits of the late '60s and early '70s, has almost disappeared.

After news/talk, R&B; and adult contemporary, the highest-rated formats are contemporary hit or Top 40, down slightly, to 9.7 from 9.8; country, down to 8.8 from 9.0, and Spanish, up to 7.3 from 7.0. Classic rock (a format that includes the all-'80s rock stations) jumped in the ratings to 6.0 from 5.3, tying it in sixth place with album rock.

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