The 10 Largest Radio Stations In The United States – Zippia (2023)

The field of radio broadcasting has seen a huge shift since the dawn of digital broadcasting. An industry that once had virtually no competition except record players, tape cassettes, and eventually CDs is now seeing a huge shakeup and it’s not faring too well.

Radio stations aren’t exactly endangered, but their livelihood is nothing like it used to be. Before we take a look at ten of the largest radio stations in the country, let’s look at what’s happening to the industry in general.

Today, classic radio stations are few and far between, but they’re still out there and these are some of the top radio stations in the country as they consistently earn a significant amount of money. Note that many of them are not music-based.

  • WTOP

    Washington’s Top News
    Washington, D.C.
    Type of Station: News Channel
    Parent Company: Hubbard Broadcasting
    Earnings in 2021: $62 million

    WTOP stands for Washington’s Top News broadcasts and can be found on multiple channels in the D.C. metro area, in greater Virginia, and in Maryland in Frederick, Chesapeake Bay, and Fredericksburg and all the areas in between. They’re also available through Alexa, HD Radio, and

    In April of 2011, the station was bought by the Minnesota-based and family-owned Hubbard Broadcasting. But that’s not the beginning of this station’s story, not by a long shot.

    It was started way back in 1926, but the station didn’t earn its call letters until 1943. Interestingly, those were inherited from a police radio station, Tiffin Ohio Police.

    Many format changes would follow and finally, on March 9, 1969, the station struck what would be gold for them, an all-news format. They’re one of the best-known news channels in the country, as evidenced by their earnings.


    Los Angeles, California
    Type of Station: Contemporary Hit Radio
    Parent Company: iHeartMedia
    Earnings in 2018: $61 million

    KIIS is a huge hit music maker, in tradition with the first radio stations. They lay claim to Ryan Seacrest and they’re willing to ride his wave of fame as far as they can.

    KIIS is a commercial radio station that sticks to the top 40 format that’s popular and familiar to most people over 20. While Ryan Seacrest is the hot DJ of the moment, the station was also home to Rick Dees, a household name in the 1980s and 1990s.

    KIIS has gone through a lot of growing pains since first signing on in 1961 as KLAC-FM.
    Different call letters, different formats, different owners, and different celebrity DJs followed but KIIS has held on as one of the top ten radio channels in the country for a few decades and has found the niche that works for it and its audience.

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    Los Angeles, California
    Type of Station: Hot Adult-Contemporary
    Parent Company: iHeartMedia
    Earnings in 2018: $46 million

    KBIG also serves the greater Los Angeles area and features hot adult contemporary music. What is that you may ask? It’s a modern music format that focuses on top and popular music from the 1990s to present day.

    The station goes by 104.3 MYfm at the present time. In 2007 there was a big switch and some format flipping. One of the big changes that happened in 2007 was the loss of Casey Kasem’s American Top 20 radio program.

    KBIG had been the flagship for this program when it launched in 1992 and their long-time regular DJ, Charlie Tuna, would fill in for Kasem. Even when the station wasn’t focused on contemporary music, they still featured this weekly countdown.

    That is until the change-up in 2007.

    Another loss during this time was the nationally syndicated love song-based show Delilah, which features love letters and dedications read by the host, Delilah. While Delilah still had her national syndication, LA was without the popular program until 2012 when another station picked it up.


    New York, New York
    Type of Station: Lite Adult Contemporary
    Parent Company: Owned by iHeartMedia
    Earnings in 2018: $44 million

    Not just a high-earning radio station, WLTW is the most popular radio station in the country. Located in the heart of New York City, it broadcasts from the former ATT Building in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. Their transmitter is perched atop the Empire State Building.

    WLTW started as WRVR in 1961 and was owned by Riverside Church. They played mainly classical music but added a little jazz and some religious programming and public affairs news and events. Pretty soon the jazz took over and it had a strong following, but low ratings.

    But that jazz fan base was solid. Even though the station was sold, the change to a more contemporary format was blocked until the late 1970s. Even then, the jazz fans petitioned the FCC to deny the station’s renewal because they were not happy with the new country format.

    In 1984, the station was then owned by Viacom, who changed the call letters to WLTW and opted for easy listening music. Slowly, over time they began to add a few modern, but low-key, musicians until it became the mainstream adult contemporary station it’s known as today.


    New York, New York
    Type of Station: Contemporary Hit Radio
    Parent Company: iHeartMedia
    Earnings in 2021: $44 million

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    Licensed in Newark, New Jersey, WHTZ plays in the New York metropolitan area. It’s the flagship station for the very popular Elvis Duran and the Morning Show program. Its studios are located in Tribeca and its transmitter is located at the top of the Empire State Building.

    In addition to a standard analog transmission, WHTZ also has an HD radio format and streams on iHeartRadio, which makes sense, since they are owned by iHeartMedia.

    The channel used to also be streamed and simulcast on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but as of June 2020, they are no longer on their radio channel but can still be heard on streaming services associated with Sirius.

    Often called Z100, this channel was originally home to New York’s fourth FM radio station which started in 1942. As happened for most radio channels, changes came along and everything changed, many times.

    By the time the station adopted the call letters WHTZ in 1983, they also switched to calling themselves Z100. Today, they like to refer to their on-air personalities as ZJs.


    New York, New York
    Type of Station: Sports/Talk
    Parent Company: Entercom
    Earnings in 2018: $41 million

    Often called Sports Radio 66 AM and 101.9 FM or The FAN, this is a New York staple and was the world’s first radio station to adopt a 24/7 sports radio format. Of course, they didn’t start out that way.

    The 660 AM frequency began as WEAF in 1922 and was owned by ATT at that time. They were soon purchased by NBC’s parent company the Radio Corporation of America and the call letters were changed to WNBC.

    While they’re known for their talk, there were times in the history of this channel that music was the focus. There seemed to be a constant flip back and forth until the sports channel was established.

    Talk on WNBC was quite popular and a lot of celebrity talk show hosts came from this channel, including Soupy Sales, Alan Colmes, Joey Reynolds, Don Imus, and Howard Stern. Some of them are much more controversial than others.

    Sports radio began on the FM sister station of 1050 in 1987 and moved to the AM station 660 the next year. That move was very controversial and complicated and at one point included a Spanish-language channel.

    Eventually, the dust settled, and a 24/7 sports news channel was established and quickly became quite popular, spawning its own celebrities and the catchphrase, “And that’s what’s happening…”

  • 1010 WINS

    New York, New York
    Type of Station: News
    Parent Company: Entercom
    Earnings in 2018: $40.5 million

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    Another New York station owned by Entercom, WINS is the oldest continuously operating all-news station in the United States. The channel adopted the all-news format in 1965. But the station goes way back to 1924 when it started with studios in the Gimbels department store and was called WGBS.

    In 1932, new giant William Randolph Hearst bought the station and the WINS call sign began. Interestingly, it wasn’t until the channel was owned by Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

    When WINS went to all-news, it was the third station in the country to attempt this programming format. While the move to all news at the time seemed very risky, it has obviously paid off for the station and continues to be a winner.


    New York, New York
    Type of Station: News
    Parent Company: Entercom
    Earnings in 2018: $40 million

    WCBS is an AM channel that is located at 880 on your AM dial. Its transmitter is located on High Island in the Bronx. With a 50,000-watt clear channel signal, it can be heard throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada at nighttime.

    This station also dates way back to 1924. At the time, it was a pioneering station in NYC and was one of the first to broadcast from remote locations. The station went through a few call letters until 1946 when it became WCBS, to coincide with their parent network the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).

    Radio soap operas and talk shows were very popular on this channel initially. However, it wasn’t until after WINS switched to all news that WCBS decided to make the same change.


    Chicago, Illinois
    Type of Station: News
    Parent Company: Entercom
    Earnings in 2018: $39 million

    WBBM is another commercial all-news radio station that broadcasts out of Chicago, Illinois. It’s also another station owned by Entercom.

    They are a Class A station broadcasting on a clear channel AM frequency with 35,000 watts during the daytime and 42,000 watts at night which means there is coverage into the northern two-thirds of Illinois.

    During the day, their signal is strong enough that they also reach into large portions of Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and Indiana. At night, they’re the strongest channel in the Midwest and can be heard across much of North America.

    WBBM is a classic analog station but it also broadcasts over HD radio and is simulcast on WCFS-FM and available online at

    First licensed in 1924, the company was founded by a 29-year old who had a simple spark transmitter set. Always a pioneer and a bit of a rebel, that same “kid,” Les Atlass, was broadcasting local election results in April of 1923 from his amateur radio station.

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    While this was not legal, he found a technical loophole as he was allowed to transmit to another amateur; it wasn’t his fault others were listening.

    A few months later, Atlass got the call sign WBBM and began officially broadcasting his radio station in 1924. By 1928, the station had begun its long association with CBS and eventually joined as a network affiliate. In 1968 the switch was made to all news and has stayed that way.

  • KFI-AM

    Los Angeles, California
    Type of Station: News/Talk
    Parent Company: iHeartMedia
    Earnings in 2018: $35 million

    KFI began operating in 1922 and slowly kept increasing power until it became one of the very first high-powered clear-channel stations in the United States. As a Class A 50,000 watt station, it can be heard throughout all of Southern California during the day, and at night it can be heard in the entire western region of the United States.

    KFI airs a talk radio format and likes to feature local hosts, but there’s a particular national talk show host that the channel may be most famous for. It aired then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats during World War II. The show is well-known as a pacifier for the country in a time of turbulence and strife.

    For a while, the station was a hybrid of music and comedic commentary but AM began to lose the pop music market in the 1980s and their ratings slipped. Eventually, they switched to the talk format that is popular on AM radio and a hit for them.

  • Once upon a time, the DJ was king. Some of them rose to national fame and became known for their ability to make or break a band. If the DJ liked the band’s sound, they’d play their music.

    Eventually, that music would catch on and, like wildfire, the band would be played across the country. Or, your music would flop and it’d never go beyond that album that got a little local radio play.

    Even more interestingly, if you go back to a time before 1976, sound recordings couldn’t be copyrighted. So a DJ went to the mall, bought a Beatles record, then went on the air and played it. It was considered an honor to be a selected artist on the radio station and free advertising.

    That began to change when radio stations, or DJs in particular, were paid to play a song to try to make it popular and the band famous. It seems like a logical step, but it was deemed illegal and got slapped with the term payola.

    As the copyright laws changed, so did the balance of power in the radio industry. Now stations had to pay for the rights to use songs and they’d typically buy catalogs of songs from the label. That was a cost-effective way to feature many different artists. When this started happening, the independent radio station began to die away.

    A company known as iHeartMedia or Clear Channel started seeing the writing on the wall and began to buy up radio stations. In 1996, Clear Channel owned 40 stations. By the end of 2019, they owned 850 stations, leaving only 82 independent radio stations left in the United States.

    Not only did iHeartRadio prompt some big changes and the decline of the fame for local DJs, but it opened the door to new ways of listening to music. If you know the name iHeartMedia, you no doubt have heard of iHeartRadio.

    Created as a way to combine radio with podcasts and music. It’s free and it can be customized by listeners, so they get to listen to whatever they want. Then the floodgates opened, and digital and streaming music began surpassing radio in popularity.

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    What are the top 10 radio stations? ›

    Top radio stations in USA
    • 101.1 The Beat - BigR.
    • 104.3 Jamz - Bates FM.
    • 108.1 JAMZ - BigR.
    • 100.7 The Mix - BigR.
    • 100.9 Star Country! - BigR.
    • 100.8 The Hawk!! - BigR.
    • 100.5 Classic Rock - BigR.

    What is the biggest radio station in us? ›

    Top 40 radio stations in the US
    RankOutletTotal Visits
    1WKBC-AM (North Wilkesboro, NC)18,137,068,150
    2ESPN Radio591,558,465
    3WWGK-AM (Cleveland, OH)591,558,465
    4WEPN-FM (New York, NY)591,558,465
    36 more rows

    Who has the largest radio audience? ›

    BBC World Service – 188 million weekly listeners, broadcasting in 32 languages as of 2009. A State of Trance with Armin van Buuren has an estimated 40 million listeners across 84 countries. American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest has an estimated 20 million listeners worldwide.

    What is the largest radio network? ›

    All India Radio is the largest radio network in the world, and one of the largest broadcasting organisations in the world in terms of the number of languages broadcast and the spectrum of socio-economic and cultural diversity it serves.

    What is a Top 40 radio station? ›

    It is the best-selling or most frequently broadcast popular music. Record charts have traditionally consisted of a total of 40 songs. "Top 40" or "contemporary hit radio" is also a radio format. Frequent variants of the Top 40 are the Top 10, Top 20, Top 30, Top 50, Top 75, Top 100 and Top 200.

    What is the oldest radio station in America? ›

    KDKA in Pittsburgh, most often cited as the first radio outlet in the United States, had begun as the amateur station 8XK in 1916, but it was forced off the air in World War I. It reappeared on November 2, 1920, as a “commercial” voice-and-music…

    What is the most used radio station? ›

    Largest Radio Stations Research Summary

    The largest radio station in the U.S. is WTOP, with a 2021 earnings of $62 million. As of 2022, the U.S. radio industry has a market size of $20.9 billion. There are at least 15,445 commercial radio stations in the U.S.

    What is the longest running radio station? ›

    The Grand Ole Opry is the longest-running live radio program in the world.

    Where is the world's largest radio station? ›

    Project ELF, which became operational in 1989, consists of two transmitters, one near Clam Lake in Northern Wisconsin, and the other at Republic, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

    Who is the king of radio? ›

    Stern has described himself as the "King of All Media" since 1992 for his successes outside radio.
    Howard Stern
    OccupationRadio and television personality, comedian, author
    Years active1975–present
    6 more rows

    Who is the highest paid radio talk show host? ›

    Howard Stern – $90 million

    He has been on the air for over 30 years and currently has a contract worth $500 million with SiriusXM. In addition to his work on satellite radio, Stern also makes money from his book deals and investments.

    Which country listens to the most radio? ›

    The data shows that radio music consumption was highest in Poland and South Africa, with a reach of 94 percent in both countries. Ranking third was Germany with a reach of 93 percent.
    CharacteristicShare of respondents
    12 more rows
    Jan 8, 2021

    Who owns most radio stations in US? ›

    It's a storied iHeartMedia property that is the No. 1-billing music station in America — 102.7 KIIS-FM in Los Angeles.

    What radio is owned by Disney? ›

    Radio Disney Networks broadcasts three separated digital channels, Radio Disney, Radio Disney Country and Radio Disney Junior, via radio station's HD channel or by online stream sites.

    How many US radio stations are there? ›

    Radio is one of the most powerful mediums in the United States, with a weekly reach of around 82.5 percent among adults. There are over 15,445 radio stations in the U.S., all competing for a piece of this massive market.

    What are the top 20 radio markets? ›

    2021 Market RankMarket12+ POPULATION
    1New York, NY16,662,000
    2Los Angeles, CA11,369,600
    3Chicago, IL8,031,900
    4San Francisco, CA6,737,900
    107 more rows

    What is the coolest radio station? ›

    50 Best Radio Stations to Listen to Right Now
    • Refuge.
    • NPR.
    • Foundation FM.
    • Soho Radio.
    • No Signal.
    • Worldwide FM.
    • WNYU 89.1FM.
    • Dublin Digital Radio.
    Mar 7, 2022

    What radio station is hottest 100 on? ›

    The Hottest 100 countdown will be broadcasted live on Triple J radio, kicking off at 12pm AEDT on Saturday, 28th of January 2023.

    What was the first black radio station? ›

    WERD was the first radio station owned and programmed by African Americans. The station was established in Atlanta, Georgia on October 3, 1949, broadcasting on 860 AM (now used by WAEC).

    What city was the radio invented? ›

    The Marconi Company Ltd. was founded by Marconi in 1897, known as the Wireless Telegraph Trading Signal Company. Also in 1897, Marconi established the radio station at Niton, Isle of Wight, England.

    What was the first FM radio? ›

    On March 1, 1941 W47NV began broadcasting in Nashville, Tennessee, becoming the first fully licensed commercial FM station. There was significant interest in the new FM band by station owners, however, construction restrictions that went into place during World War II limited the growth of the new service.

    What is the most famous radio play? ›

    Perhaps America's most famous radio drama broadcast is Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds (a 1938 version of H. G. Wells' novel), which inspired stories of a mass panic that, though greatly exaggerated, signaled the power of the form.

    Whats a radio station no one uses? ›

    Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz. It's so enigmatic, it's as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”.

    Is radio still popular in USA? ›

    Despite television's predominance, radio's impact is still extensive, and every day it reaches 80 percent of the U.S. population.

    How far can a radio pick up? ›

    Most airband radios are 5 - 8 watts and typically have a range of around 200 miles.

    How long will FM radio last? ›

    Other recommendations include that there should be no mandated switch-off of analogue radio until at least 2030 - meaning that FM radio broadcasts can continue for at least another decade so the elderly, vulnerable and people in remote communities can access essential news and entertainment.

    What was the first song played on the radio? ›

    On the evening of December 24, 1906, Reginald Fessenden used the alternator-transmitter to send out a short program from Brant Rock. It included a phonograph record of Ombra mai fu (Largo) by George Frideric Handel, followed by Fessenden himself playing the song O Holy Night on the violin.

    What is the smallest radio station? ›

    It broadcasts on FM on 107.9 MHz from the existing radio mast by the Coastguard Tower at Telegraph on St. Mary's island. Most of the Isles of Scilly can be covered from this site. It is one of the world's smallest radio stations, due to the small number of residents on the islands.

    What are the largest radio companies in the US? ›

    Leading online radio companies in the United States in March 2021, by average active sessions
    CharacteristicNumber of average active sessions
    NPR Member Stations*99,583
    Cumulus Streaming Network61,718
    9 more rows
    Feb 7, 2023

    What is the world's smallest radio? ›

    Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have made the world's tiniest radio receiver through an assembly of atomic-level defects inside pink diamonds. The radio receiver can withstand harsh environments, high temperatures and could even be embedded in humans thanks to its biocompatibility.

    Who is the famous radio guy? ›

    Rush Limbaugh

    America's most listened to radio host, Rush Limbaugh commands an audience that averages 15.5 million people.

    Who listens to the radio in America? ›

    1. More Americans listen to the radio than use Facebook each week.
    Radio Listeners 2021Radio Listeners 2020Radio Listeners 2019
    88% of Americans83% of Americans89% of Americans

    What do you call the radio guy? ›

    A radio personality who hosts a radio show is also known as a radio host, and in India and Pakistan as a radio jockey. Radio personalities who introduce and play individual selections of recorded music are known as disc jockeys or "DJs" for short.

    Do radio hosts make good money? ›

    While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $390,000 and as low as $16,000, the majority of Radio Talk Show Host salaries currently range between $31,000 (25th percentile) to $104,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $377,000 annually across the United States.

    Do radio hosts make a lot of money? ›

    The salaries of Radio Talk Show Hosts in the US range from $18,000 to $86,780 , with a median salary of $30,960 . The middle 67% of Radio Talk Show Hosts makes between $30,960 and $48,910, with the top 67% making $86,780.

    Do radio show guests get paid? ›

    Like radio talk shows, TV news talk shows usually won't pay guests for showing up. In both cases, the financial results – if there are any – are generally longer term. Gaining more awareness will lead to more people discovering what they do, buying their products or services, and so on.

    What states listen to the most country? ›

    For those looking for the best states to kick up their boots in, the top five states for country music lovers are:
    • Tennessee.
    • Nevada.
    • Montana.
    • Nebraska.
    • Missouri.
    Jun 2, 2022

    Which country banned FM radio first? ›

    The decision of the Norweign government to switch over to digital broadcasting has become controversial. Norway became the first country to ban FM radio broadcasting.

    What age group listens to the radio most? ›

    Among adults 18+, radio reaches 92% of U.S. adults every week. Radio is in high demand and has a diverse listenership when considering how many people tune in across age, gender and ethnicity. Not surprisingly, adults 18-49 are the demographic that tunes in the most.

    Does Eminem own a radio station? ›

    History. Eminem established his own channel, Shade 45, that plays uncut hip hop. Eminem also established a new morning show, Sway in the Morning with Sway Calloway, a lively morning show that airs at 8:00 a.m., Monday–Friday.

    How many black owned radio stations are there in the US? ›

    Blacks own about 168 of 10,315 commercial AM and FM radio stations in the United States. These stations are concentrated in the southern region of the country and are distributed among 30 states. The largest number of Black-owned stations is located in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

    Who owns 92.3 radio station? ›

    What channel does Mickey Mouse always listen to? ›

    This news is truly music to our (Mickey Mouse) ears: Disney Hits—a brand-new, first-of-its-kind music channel—just launched on SiriusXM! It's now available to listeners nationwide on SiriusXM radios (channel 302) and on the SiriusXM app.

    Why did Radio Disney end? ›

    At its peak in the mid-2000s, Radio Disney had a 97% reach across the country and had expanded to other platforms, such as satellite radio. But the start of a new decade ushered in the rise of streaming music, with new platforms such as Spotify making old ones like Radio Disney seem dated.

    Who owns Disney now? ›

    In 2005, under new CEO Bob Iger, the company started to expand and acquire other corporations. Bob Chapek became the head of Disney in 2020 after Iger's retirement.
    The Walt Disney Company.
    The corporate variant of the Disney logo
    The Walt Disney Studios corporate headquarters in Burbank, California, 2016
    IndustryMedia Entertainment
    24 more rows

    What is the most powerful radio station in the US? ›

    The following is a list of radio stations in the United States that are authorized to run 50 kW (50,000 watts) of power. This is the highest power authorized to any AM station in the United States.
    List of 50 kW AM radio stations in the United States.
    Call signWABC
    Frequency770 kHz
    Community of LicenseNew York
    Power50 kW U
    117 more columns

    What is USA national radio station? ›

    National Public Radio (NPR), the public radio network of the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NPR offers a broad range of high-quality news and cultural programming to hundreds of local public radio stations.

    What is the number one radio station in Boston? ›

    Top 10 radio stations in Boston
    RankOutletTotal Visits
    1WMJX-FM (Boston, MA)13,918,076
    2WBGB-FM (Boston, MA)13,918,076
    3WBUR-FM (Boston, MA)2,164,735
    4WBZ-FM (Boston, MA)1,235,526
    6 more rows

    What is the biggest radio station in LA? ›


    What is the best radio station right now? ›

    50 Best Radio Stations to Listen to Right Now
    • Refuge.
    • NPR.
    • Foundation FM.
    • Soho Radio.
    • No Signal.
    • Worldwide FM.
    • WNYU 89.1FM.
    • Dublin Digital Radio.
    Mar 7, 2022

    What is the #1 radio station in NYC? ›


    Where is radio listened to most? ›

    Most radio listening is done outside the home while consumers are driving to and from work or running errands. Radio is immediate and is often close to the point of purchase when consumers make purchasing decisions.

    What is the biggest radio station in Texas? ›

    Top 40 radio stations in Texas
    RankOutletTotal Visits
    1KDXX-FM (Dallas, TX)39,549,032
    2KMYO-FM (San Antonio, TX)39,549,032
    3KLNO-FM (Dallas, TX)39,549,032
    4Que Buena39,549,032
    36 more rows

    What is the biggest radio station in Chicago? ›

    Here is the list with the most popular ten radio stations in Chicago:
    • WLS-FM (94.7 FM) ...
    • WXRT-M (93.1 FM) ...
    • WBEZ-M (91.5 FM) ...
    • WSCR-AM (670 AM)

    Who is the most famous radio host? ›

    America's most listened to radio host, Rush Limbaugh commands an audience that averages 15.5 million people.

    How many radio stations are in the US? ›

    Number of commercial radio stations in the U.S. 1990-2020

    According to the source, there were 15,445 commercial radio stations in the United States in 2020, five down from the previous year but still more than double the amount of stations in 1970.

    Why do radio stations start with K? ›

    Following a practice inaugurated in 1912 when the federal government first licensed radio stations, beginning in 1921 broadcasting stations have generally been assigned call signs beginning with "K" when their community of license is located in the west, and with "W" in the east.


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