2020 Grammys

Ross On Radio: Tune In For What?

The "most-followed" radio station in the world is a British top 40 powerhouse. The most-followed American stations are a pair of hip-hop outlets: one broadcast, one digital-only. The most-followed top 40 station from America is a pureplay as well, and has twice the followers of its leading broadcast rival.

Those are the stations most-followed specifically by TuneIn listeners. The streaming aggregator, which claims over 50 million monthly users, relaunched its Website and mobile application May 7. The new TuneIn has an enhanced social media aspect, making it possible for users to share content. It also  shows "follower" numbers for the more than 100,000 broadcast and online radio stations the site lists. 

Until now, TuneIn has not released any ranking of its offerings beyond current trending information on the site's homepage. But at the request of Billboard.biz, TuneIn did provide a top 10 overall listing of stations with the most followers. In addition, Billboard.biz researched and ranked the number of followers for every current mainstream top 40 chart reporting station.

Those follower stats don't represent listening levels, although many of the most-followed stations were a familiar presence on the previous trending listings. TuneIn's follower numbers are a combination of what were previously called "favorites," (essentially station stream bookmarks) but the service is now offering a widget to participating broadcasters' websites that allow users to "follow" a station. It is also possible to follow another user. 

To some extent, the rankings represent the varying enthusiasm with which various broadcast groups participate in and promote TuneIn. The standings are also informed by the geo-blocking of many station streams, especially American, outside their home territories.

The top 40 rankings in particular are impacted by the preponderance of Clear Channel stations in that format. With its own iHeartRadio to promote, Clear Channel streams can be accessed from the TuneIn website, but not from TuneIn's mobile apps. Not surprisingly, Clear Channel representation among TuneIn's most-followed stations is low (although not non-existent). 

But some of TuneIn's most-followed stations are represented on both services, including Emmis-owned WQHT (Hot 97) New York and KPWR (Power 106) Los Angeles, and Cox's WPOI (Hot 101.5) Tampa, Fla. Cox Media Group director of digital audience Tim Clarke, who was recently promoted from the WPOI PD slot says the station tries to "promote iHeart and TuneIn in meaningful ways to our life groups [using examples] that lend themselves to mobile radio, like taking us to the gym, on a run, to the beach, etc."

Here are TuneIn's ten most-followed stations:

1 - BBC Radio 1 UK (top 40), 1.9 million followers (slightly edging the nearly 1.8 million followers it has on Twitter);

2 (tie) - WQHT (Hot 97) New York (hip-hop), 1.2 million;

2 (tie) - VirtualDJ Radio: The Grind (hip-hop), 1.2 million;

4 - BBC Radio 2 UK (AC), 1.1 million;

5 - Capital FM London (top 40), 833,100;

6 - talkSport UK (sports), 783,600;

7 - 977 Music: Today's Hits (top 40), 561,300;

8 - KPWR (Power 106) Los Angeles (rhythmic top 40), 537,200;

9 - Classic FM UK (classical) 518,200;

10 - WSKQ (Mega 97.9) New York (Latin/tropical)  468,400

Here are the top five Mainstream Top 40 reporters:

1 - WPOI (Hot 101.5) Tampa, Fla., 202,700 followers;

2 - WNOW (92.3 Now FM) New York, 164,000;

3 - KAMP (97.1 Amp FM) Los Angeles, 148,700;

4 - WBBM-FM (B96) Chicago, 103,800;

5 - KRBE Houston, 96,000

If you were to include family-targeted Radio Disney as a single station, it would be fourth among monitored top 40 stations with 140,700 followers. 

These top 40 stations had a following disproportionate to their market size:

WXSS (Kiss 103.7) Milwaukee, 83,500 (rank No. 7, market No. 38);

WKSE (Kiss 98.5) Buffalo, N.Y., 75,900 (rank No. 9, market No. 56);

WJFX (Hot 107.9) Fort Wayne, Ind., 70,400 (rank No. 11, market No. 113);

WBLI Long Island, N.Y., 67,500 (rank No. 12, market No. 19);

WYKS (Kiss 105.3) Gainesville, Fla., 65,500 (rank No. 14, market No. 88);

All the U.S. broadcast top 40 numbers lag not only Radio 1 and Capital FM, but also stations like NRJ Paris (339,200) and CKFM (99.9 Virgin Radio) Toronto (234,000). They also trail rhythmic top 40 and hip-hop stations such as KBXX (The Box) Houston with 260,300 followers, WPOW (Power 96) Miami (223,300), KBFB (97.9 The Beat) Dallas (214,200) and WRDW (Wired 96.5) Philadelphia (223,300).

The most followers for any Clear Channel top 40 in the U.S. was KIIS Los Angeles with 12,900. WHTZ (Z100) New York has 10,100 followers. Some relatively large Clear Channel top 40s have less than 1,000 followers on TuneIn. However, the company's rapidly growing KIIS 106.5 Sydney, Australia, has 159,300, followers.



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