Christian AC Radio

Are Christian AC radio listeners ready for modern pop?

I've been thinking about this question for a while...

Is the Christian AC audience ready for the modern pop sound?

We all know the trend...a sound gets popular in the general market. Two years later the CCM labels sign and develop acts that sound like this. Two years after that, those acts start getting played on the radio.

The problem is, we have access to more information and data than we ever have had before. Can we jump into these musical trends sooner? If so, now's the time for Christian AC to start playing some pop music.

The general market is FULL of this sound and has been for a while...

Mike Couchman (PD at JOY FM and Boost 101.9 in St. Louis, MO) posted this to the CHR forum a few weeks ago and I wanted to share it with you...

From Nielsen (

Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) had a down year compared with 2016, but it remained the top-ranked format in terms of audience share among kids 6-11, teens 12-17, Millennials aged 18-34 and persons 25-to-54. 


Listening to Urban Contemporary stations (also known as hip-hop) was much more prevalent among younger audiences


Hot AC lands at the FIFTH highest rated format of the year. Hot AC, in case you haven't spent a lot of time with it, sounds nothing like Christian Hot AC. It's essentially Pop/CHR but they add slower and are generally conservative on the rhythmic side.

When you combine Pop AND Hot AC shares among all ages, you get a 13.5 share. That's nearly 4 shares ahead of News/Talk (which would be #2). Throw Urban in and you're at a whopping 17.3 share.


I've been watching KOST in LA for a while now and have noticed that this sound is all over their airwaves. Here are a few examples of songs they have in current rotation:

"Treat You Better" from Shawn Mendes

"Something Jus Life This" from Chainsmokers and Coldplay

"Believer" from Imagine Dragons

"What Lovers Do" from Maroon 5

A look at the Billboard AC Top 30 reveals even more pop at the format...


Zedd feat. Justin Bieber

Alessia Cara

Charlie Puth

Niall Horan

Portugal.The Man

Justin Bieber


Examples of this sound are all over the format in recurrent as well. I simply pulled a few currents to illustrate the point.

The general market is all over this sound. Is the Christian AC audience ready for it? Are you as a programmer ready to introduce it to them?

I know there are a lot of reasons the Christian AC format is where it is sonically and there are reasons the audience comes to you that are much more important that the sound/vibe but this is all something to think about for the new year...

It might be possible to give them what they're coming to you for while giving them a sound that sounds like right now.

Thanks for reading!