Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Broadcast Station Totals


The growth of radio is an erratic thing. But the number of stations only goes up. The change in that year by year varies and we call that growth.. of some kind. I also figured out how to support columns in HTML so this will look a bit snazzier than usual.I'm running with the September number for each year except this year (2011) where I'm subbing with March numbers because September hasn't happened yet. Linear time is like that.

What we have below is several  years of station totals from the FCC with +/- data over the previous year.  Commercial FM shows steady growth, AM shows a steady decline. Neither of those are surprises, those are trends that began in the 1970s.What jumps out to be is the debut of LP radio and it's growth, and also the huge growth in "FM Educational."  Of course those aren't schools. Those are almost exclusively satellite-fed religious broadcasters. There are now literally thousands of them. They've been averaging 130 new stations a year for 7 years. That number excludes translators!

That is unsustainable growth, and plowing straight through a recession no less. At that pace there will be more religious broadcasters than commercial FM stations in 20 years. That may seem like a long time, but realistically I don't expect FM to be growing for 2 more decades. I expect it to recede in a cultural shift to online content. I've said it before but it's worth repeating. In 20 years there won't be anything on the radio but Spanish stations, religious stations, and Spanish religious stations.

2011
CATEGORYCOUNTCHANGE
AM STATIONS4,778-6
FM COMMERCIAL6,533+21
FM EDUCATIONAL3,417+166
LOW POWER FM859-5

2010
CATEGORYCOUNTCHANGE
AM STATIONS4,784-6
FM COMMERCIAL6,512+33
FM EDUCATIONAL3,251+100
LOW POWER FM8640

2009
CATEGORYCOUNTCHANGE
AM STATIONS4,790+12
FM COMMERCIAL6,479-97
FM EDUCATIONAL3,151+184
LOW POWER FM864+13

2008
CATEGORYCOUNTCHANGE
AM STATIONS4,778+2
FM COMMERCIAL6,382+92
FM EDUCATIONAL2,964+94
LOW POWER FM851+36

2007
CATEGORYCOUNTCHANGE
AM STATIONS4776+25
FM COMMERCIAL6290+38
FM EDUCATIONAL2873+83
LOW POWER FM815+69

2006
CATEGORYCOUNTCHANGE
AM STATIONS4751-7
FM COMMERCIAL6252+37
FM EDUCATIONAL2790+164
LOW POWER FM746+148

2005
CATEGORYCOUNTCHANGE
AM STATIONS4758-12
FM COMMERCIAL6215-2
FM EDUCATIONAL2626+114
LOW POWER FM598+598