Contemporary Christian radio continued to grow in 2008, adding 28 stations over the past year and more than doubling its numbers from a decade ago.
The radio format is the second most popular music format following Country radio, which has lost more than 350 stations since 1998, according to Inside Radio and M Street Corp Publications, which tracks radio statistics.
Among all radio formats (31 in total), Contemporary Christian radio ranks No. 4, trailing News/Talk, Country, and Religion (Teaching, Variety). Southern Gospel, meanwhile, ranks No. 16 and Black Gospel No. 18.
According to the National Religious Broadcasters, a Virginia-based trade group, Christian contemporary music is one of the top three fastest growing genres. And in a review of Arbitron ratings over the last decade, religious radio showed steady growth, while other formats, such as classical, oldies and even rock, declined.
Those familiar with the music scene say part of the success of contemporary Christian stations is that they feature songs about people's personal relationships with Jesus. For some, especially the unchurched, that individual message resonates.
The latest statistics compiled by Inside Radio covered the growth of radio stations through the end of November 2008. Data was broken out into commercial/non-commercial counts, AM/FM counts, simulcasts and nets counts.