Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

June 19, 2018

Radio 101: Working in Country Radio vs. Top 40 Radio.

     Whew- it's been awhile since I've written one of these posts! But I'm excited to bring back Radio 101 to the blog today after an extended break. This is the series where I talk about all things related to my day job and career in radio broadcasting! Everything from sharing my personal experiences in radio, to answering some of your questions about radio stations (such as why you hear the same songs over and over on certain types of radio stations). The last time that I wrote a Radio 101 blog post was in November 2017, which is when I was still working at my former stations in Vermont, and also around the time that I began to strongly realize I'd be pursuing other employment opportunities in early 2018. Since I was at a place late last fall where I knew I'd be leaving former radio job, it felt weird to keep writing these posts on my blog at that time.

     Thankfully- a lot can happen in a few months, and now it's actually been three months since I moved to Virginia and started working in country radio! I'm still absolutely loving my new job, and also loving being on-air in Charlottesville. I am excited to be bringing back Radio 101 blog posts this summer! I love being able to integrate a bit about my career into the blog, and it's fun for me to hopefully share with people some things about radio that they didn't know! I love working in an industry that's literally apart of everyone's lives in some way or another. 

     I thought a fun way to reintroduce Radio 101 on the blog would be to share some thoughts about working in Country radio versus CHR radio (Contemporary Hit Radio - Top 40)! Obviously I'm still very new in the radio industry, and I only did work in CHR for just under a year. But I still have some observations that I've made between the two types of radio from both of my jobs, as well as some internships and job shadowing experiences that I had back in school! 

      Working in Country radio vs. CHR radio

  • CHR: The whole point of Top 40 radio is to play the top songs on the radio airplay and Billboard Hot 100 charts... over and over and over! Which can be great if you're a consumer of radio and enjoy listening to what's popular and new now.... but if you work in radio on the other hand, this is absolute torture. The most popular songs of all are played as often as twice an hour, and this gets real old real fast. Songs that are very successful on the charts and have a long run on Top 40 radio are played frequently for 10+ weeks... and if you're hearing these songs multiple times a day (for work) for that long, it gets old. I'm saying that as someone who genuinely does like pop music, too! 
  • Country: I've been working in country radio for three months now, and still have yet to really get "sick" of the music! (PRAISE!) Sure- there are some songs and artists that I definitely like more than others. But there is a lot more variety in what you can play in the type of country station I work for, as we aren't just playing only the same 10-20 new country songs. We heavily play 90s, and early and late 2000s country, as well as the new stuff. Other country stations do play more new music and less gold tracks (older songs are often called "golds"), but even with that, I still feel there's a little more variety in the country format than Top 40. No songs on the station I work for now play as often as once or twice an hour! The most I'll hear the same song is maybe twice during my workday (for one of the new songs that's high on the country charts). 

  • CHR: Top 40 radio is something that most people are very familiar with, but I think it's hard for a lot of millennials especially to stay really passionate about it. A lot of people do have a favorite CHR morning show (morning shows often thrive in this radio format), but other then that, I've found in people my age that I've talked to about radio that there isn't a ton of loyalty. Yes, people do call of course if there is a contest and sometimes request songs, but minus the morning shows, this type of radio doesn't seem to be something that a lot of people get truly "excited" about anymore if that makes sense, especially in smaller cities.
  • Country: My experience with country so far has been so different! The local listeners are SO passionate not only about the music we play, but about our station specifically! The phones absolutely blow up for all of our contests, whether we're giving away a huge prize, or something very small. My radio Facebook page for my new job has tons of friend requests most days, and a lot of the listeners like to talk to me on Facebook and send me the nicest messages! When our station has a local event, most times tons of listeners will come out to see my boss and I. It's the most amazing thing! Charlottesville is near a lot of smaller counties that are more rural / more fit the country lifestyle, so I think that also works to the advantage for doing this radio format in this area. 

  • CHR: In both radio formats, types of events will vary station to station and city to city! Both formats are also subject to the regular car dealership live broadcast event (something I've actually not had to do yet- haha!). But as a generality, it's not uncommon for CHR stations to do events associated with bars or nightclubs, as that's where a lot of their listening audience spends time on the weekends! I had a lot of work events last year at a waterfront bar in Burlington for example. In my personal life, I do very much enjoy going out on the weekends, however I don't feel like bars and nightclubs are the best environment to be working in, if that makes sense! 
  • Country: Lots more family friendly events!! Live broadcasts at local fairs, community events, etc. Just about every live broadcast that my boss or I do out in the Charlottesville community is marketed as something to "bring the family" to. We of course do broadcasts at places like restaurants, stores, or specific businesses as well, but my experience so far has been it's places that the whole family can enjoy coming out to, not businesses so much targeted specifically at millennials or college students. Both country and CHR radio stations also do a number of charitable events per year. My former station had a few charity partners in the local community, and my new station does as well. We actually have a charity event today! 

      Of course, I know I am only just a few months into my country radio career. I know I have so much to learn as this first year continues, and hopefully have many more years ahead of me! I have been having so much fun and learning so much at my new job so far. I'm really excited to be bringing back Radio 101 posts! For the next one: I'm thinking of writing a blog post walking y'all through the process of how radio commercials are produced. Would this be an interesting topic to you?

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 


  1. This was actually super cool to read - I have always wondered what it was like behind the scenes of the radio life! Thank you for sharing this!

  2. How interesting, Annaliese! I had no idea!!! Radio is such an interesting industry. Thanks so much for providing a behind the scenes look at your day job :)

  3. I currently intern for CHR and Country sister stations right now and your post is SO accurate! Looking forward to more Radio 101 posts! :)

  4. As someone who was really into radio in college and has friends and family in the business this was really interesting. I like seeing the differences between the two areas definitely an interesting read.

  5. Yes, I LOVE this series - it's so interesting what goes on behind the scenes in radio! I'm not much of a country music fan but I can imagine the listeners would be more invested in their radio station than pop music fans

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  6. I always enjoy reading your posts about working in the radio industry. Wow, country radio and top 40 really do have a lot of differences! It must be cool that your station now has so many loyal listeners, I can see you really connecting with listeners <3

  7. I always find these to be so interesting. I feel like I'd love to be in country radio since I love country haha.

  8. Awe I loved reading about both experiences. Those are my two favorite types of radio to listen to so I was very interest in your experiences!


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