Facts & Figures

Classical Music Public Radio – Facts & Figures
(Download fact sheet)


Public radio is America’s most wide-reaching, inclusive, and affordable path to classical music. Over 190,000 people on average are listening to a classical public radio station at every moment, from morning to midnight, every day. Nearly 11 million Americans tune in to classical music on public radio at least once every week. A growing audience listens to classical public radio online.


Classical music is the most prevalent music offering of public radio and, along with other music formats such as jazz and singer/songwriter, plays a larger role in public radio than many realize. Full-time public radio music stations account for 27% of all listening to public radio and stations offering both music and news account for another 21% of listening.


Classical Music Public Radio Overview

  • 71 public media organizations offer an “all classical” broadcast service – operating over 165 stations and 90+ Internet streams[1]
  • 65 organizations offer a news and classical mix – operating 155 stations
  • Nearly 11 million Americans listen to classical music on public radio each week (6.5 million to “all classical” stations and 4.2 million to mixed format stations) [2]
  • At any time throughout the day, an average of over 190,000 listeners are tuned to an “all classical” station
  • In the top 50 radio markets in the US, the average share of all radio listening claimed by classical stations is 1.5 percent[3]
  • The “all classical” listening audience has been very stable over the past four years, with neither significant growth nor loss[4]
  • Leading producers and distributors of classical music content include American Public Media (APM), National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio Exchange (PRX), Public Radio International (PRI), and the WFMT Radio Network


The Value and Values of Classical Music Radio[5]

  • Classical music radio provides beauty and peace that raises listeners’ spirits and offers a refuge in a stressful and difficult age.
  • The primary benefits provided by classical music radio stations are stress relief, clarity of mind to focus on tasks, and an escape from contemporary culture and world problems.
  • Classical listeners use the station for gratification of personal, internal needs. Yet through the station they identify with a like-minded community. Having a local classical station inspires hope for their community and the future of culture and civilization.


Broadcast & Online Radio Stats [6]

  • Broadcast radio is the major source for music delivery, the most used of all audio platforms
  • AM/FM radio reaches 71% of Americans daily
  • Share of time spent listening to all audio sources: Broadcast Radio = 51%. Internet radio music (Pandora, Spotify, other streaming audio) = 14%. Owned music (CDs, digital music files, etc.) = 12%. Music videos on YouTube = 8%. SiriusXM satellite radio = 6%. TV music channels (e.g. Music Choice) = 5%. Podcasts = 3%. Other = 3%
  • 53% of Americans listen to online radio weekly – c. 140 million people – and the time spent listening to online radio continues to grow


About Classical Music Rising

  • Classical Music Rising is a collaborative project of leading classical stations to shape the future of classical music radio as the field confronts evolution in delivery across multiple broadcast and digital platforms, demographic and cultural change, and significant disruption throughout the music industry. The initiative was organized by the Station Resource Group, and centers on strategy, innovative tactics, and collective action – all informed by ongoing research and analysis. www.ClassicalMusicRising.org
  • While focused around the audio listening experience, Classical Music Rising also looks to the role of the station as a cultural institution that supports the overall music ecology in its community of service – live performances, local musicians, and music education.
  • Classical Music Rising was inaugurated by a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and continues with ongoing support from 28 classical station partners.


Classical Music Rising Station Partners

WQXR – New York WGUC – Cincinnati
KUSC – Los Angeles WCLV – Cleveland (ideastream)
WFMT – Chicago KMFA – Austin
KDFC – San Francisco WOSU Classical 101 – Columbus
WETA – Washington, DC WFCL – Nashville
WRTI – Philadelphia WUOL – Louisville
WCRB – Boston WXXI – Rochester
KING – Seattle Hawaii Public Radio
KBAQ – Phoenix WDPR Discover Classical, Dayton
Minnesota Public Radio KCME – Colorado Springs
Colorado Public Radio Maine Public
WDAV – Charlotte KBSU – Boise
WQED – Pittsburgh Vermont Public Radio
Capital Public Radio – Sacramento WILL – Illinois Public Media



Tom Thomas & Terry Clifford

Co-CEOs, Station Resource Group 301.540.9100


[1] “All classical” is defined as 70% or more of a station’s programming, 6am to midnight

[2] Fall 2016 National AudiGraphics, Nielsen Audio

[3] Spring 2017, Nielsen Audio

[4] Walrus Research – National AudiGraphics Fall 2016, Nielsen Audio

[5] Walrus Research – Qualitative Research for Station Resource Group & PRPD 2002

[6] Edison Research – Infinite Dial’s “Share of Ear” Q2 – 2017


Updated January 2018

Classical WETA 90.9 FM midday host Marilyn Cooley. Photo: 2016 Cable Risdon for WETA