Top Billing Radio Stations in 2021
In a streak lasting since 2014, Hubbard Radio, LLC’s WTOP-FM in Washington, DC was once again the top billing radio station in 2021. BIA estimates that WTOP-FM pulled $70 million in revenues in 2021, up 12.9% from $62 million in 2020. This surpasses the overall growth rate of 10.3% that BIA forecasts for over-the-air radio from 2020 to 2021, as the industry started to pull out of the pandemic slump. WTOP-FM is also the only station on this list to surpass its pre-pandemic revenue figure of $69.8 million in 2019.
Hubbard Radio, LLC garnered 30.5% of the over-the-air revenue in the Washington, DC market in 2021… 29.1% of which went to WTOP-FM. Number two ranked KIIS-FM in Los Angeles accounted for 9.1% of the over-the-air revenue in Los Angeles with $43 million (down from pre-pandemic revenues of $59.9 million in 2019). And Number 3 ranked WLTW in New York accounted for 8.7% of the market’s over-the-air radio revenue with $34.6 million (down from $44.0 million in 2019). Both KIIS-FM and WLTW are owned by iHeartMedia, Inc.
Audacy’s WBBM(AM) in Chicago moved up to the #4 spot (it was #5 last year), and showed the most year-over-year growth of any station in the top ten, growing 14.5% from $29.7 million in 2020 to $34.0 million in 2021. The station is still down from $39.0 million in 2019. Last year’s Number 4 station, WSB(AM) in Atlanta, Georgia, owned by Cox Media Group, Inc. fell off the list and landed at Number 12.
A few more stats from our chart of the top ten billing radio stations in 2021:
- Seven of the top ten are FM stations and three are AM.
- Hubbard and Beasley Media Group, LLC each landed one station in the top ten, while iHeartMedia and Audacy each had four stations.
- Four stations program a News format, one is Sports, and one is Sports/Talk, while the remaining four have music programming.
- Five of the top ten are in New York, while two are in Los Angeles and there’s one each in Washington, Chicago, and Boston.
Top Billing Radio Owners in 2021
Looking at the billing of radio station owners, iHeartMedia Inc. sits in the top spot in 2021, with 865 AM/FM stations in 150 markets bringing in $2.2 billion. This is up from $1.97 billion with 865 stations in 2020, but down from $2.56 billion (only 858 stations) in pre-pandemic 2019.
Number two Radio Owner is Audacy (formerly known as Entercom Communications Corp.), with 231 AM/FM stations in 47 markets bringing in $1.345 billion. This is up from $1.2 billion (also 231 stations) in 2020, but down from nearly $1.6 billion in pre-pandemic 2019 (235 stations).
A distant third, revenue-wise, is Cumulus Media Holdings Inc. with 407 AM/FM stations in 85 markets bringing in $481 million. This is up from $470 million in 2020 (415 stations), but down from $531 million in 2019 (425 stations).
Hubbard Radio LLC, which owns the number one station WTOP-FM, is in 4th place with 54 stations in 10 markets bringing in $252 million. Hubbard is the largest privately owned radio group owner in 2021.
A few more stats from our chart of the top ten radio owners by revenue in 2021:
- Seven out of ten radio owners in the top ten are publicly traded, while three are privately held.
- Hubbard Radio LLC is number four on the Radio Owners list in 2021, but owns the top billing station WTOP-FM.
- TelevisaUnivision is the top billing Spanish language broadcaster.
- Bonneville International Corp., number ten on the list, owns the fewest number of stations in the fewest number of markets, while number one iHeartMedia owns the most stations in the most markets on the list.
BIA’s 2022 editions of Investing in Radio Market Report and Investing in Radio Ownership Report are available for purchase in our online store.
Our local forecast data is available through BIA’s local advertising dashboard, BIA ADVantage, and is offered in a searchable, downloadable format.