Talk Radio by the Numbers

Conservative talk may dominate radio, but here's a by-the-numbers look at a recent CAP report that shows it doesn’t have to be that way.

Broadcast radio may seem like the wave of the past, but radio remains a strong force in American media with over 90 percent of Americans ages 12 or older still tuning in each week. Yet a startling percentage of the political and talk radio broadcast each day is conservative—91 percent.

This dominance, according to the recent Center for American Progress report “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” is due to structural imbalances—not popular demand. The complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements, and the relaxation of ownership rules have tipped the scales against localism and allowed the few to indoctrinate the many.

CAP suggests three ways to increase localism and diversify radio station ownership to better meet local and community needs:

  • Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.
  • Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.
  • Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.

Here’s a look at the state of talk radio by the numbers.


Still Rockin’

90: Percentage of Americans ages 12 or older who listen to the radio each week.

1,700: Number of commercial talk radio stations nationwide.

50 million: Number of listeners who tune into news/talk radio each week.


Conservative Dominance

257: Number of news/talk stations owned by the top five companies.


2,570: Hours of conservative talk broadcast by those radio stations each day.

254: Hours of progressive talk broadcast by those stations each day.

92: Percentage of those stations (236 out of 257) that broadcast no progressive programming.

91: Percentage of total weekday talk programming that is conservative.


100: Percentage of news/talk radio in Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia that is conservative.

69: Percent of news/talk radio in L.A. and San Francisco that is conservative.

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