The Religious Radio Boom Continues As FCC Licenses Increase


After a year of financial uncertainty, radio ownership grew in the first quarter of 2024, according to FCC license records. Noncommercial FM numbers have soared in the past year, driven by aggressive buying from religious broadcasters.

Breaking down the numbers, FM commercial stations remained steady throughout Q1 at 6,663, suggesting stability in this segment of the market. FM educational stations, however, experienced an increase, rising from 4,286 to 4,320. The year-over-year growth was 101 stations, with numerous buys and acquisitions from groups like Educational Media Foundation.

On the AM band, ownership saw a decline from 4,444 to 4,427 as the band fights for revenue while fighting on Capitol Hill for its place in the automobile dashboard. Some simply lost their licenses because of extended dead air, like in the case of Audacy’s KDWN and KXST in Las Vegas, despite the storied history of the former.

FM translators and boosters saw a slight decrease from 8,927 to 8,913, possibly tied into the loss of AM stations needing an extension onto the FM band. This number is likely to go up by the end of 2024, though, with the FCC’s new allowance of FM geo-targeting by way of boosters.

Finally, Low Power FM stations also experienced a slight decline, from 1,967 to 1,960. LPFMs could soon rise as the FCC continues to review and approve applications following the first LPFM application window in a decade.


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