Spanish Language Radio Formats
in the United
Here's a sampler of the music styles you would commonly hear on
the different Spanish language radio formats in the United
States. Each format is illustrated by a selection of song
clips in MP3 format. These songs demonstrate the styles and
genres that are usually part of each format.
Just as in U.S. general market radio,
some songs will "cross over" and be played on more than one
format. In fact, quite a a number of songs are released with different mixes
for different formats.
Each broad format section
listed below has a variety of songs taken from the "most played" songs of 2010 based on radio
monitor reports as well as a variety of "oldies" or "gold"
cuts from earlier years. First, though, a look at the appeal
of the major formats.
This website is presented by
For a ratings perspective, click
on the logo to the left and,
download and read this PDF report from Arbitron about the US
Hispanic radio market.
This table from Arbitron
showing the national share of Hispanic listening
to the various formats on the radio. As can be
seen, a percentage of listening goes to English
Some formats have low national shares, because
they are of appeal only in certain areas.
Tropical and rhythmic variants may represent significant shares along
the East Coast, but no shares at all elsewhere.
This reduces the national average despite
specific appeal to certain groups.
Arbitron definitions may differ from the
descriptions on this page only because Arbitron
tries to keep the total number of definitions as
small as practical to allow advertisers to see
the broad picture of radio.
Click on the format
name to go to a page with full details on that format.
|This format is really a combination of the
many musical styles of Mexico; stations may vary
widely in their mix of genres but the principal
ones are norteña,
formats may also include some
alterado sounds. This format is called "Grupera"
in México, but under either name, the general
content and style is the same.
is the term applied to a format group that
includes everything from Adult Contemporary to
Pop, CHR and Reggaetón based rhythmic formats.
(A/C) is a combination of old and new softer
pop and romantic love ballads and lighter pop.
There may be considerable overlap with pop CHR
stations with slower rotations (repeat patterns)
called Spanish language CHR after its somewhat
comparable English language equivalent) is an
ever-changing mix of pop, dance, Latin
house and hip-hop, rock, reggaetón, ballads and
other contemporary music types. The overlap with
Adult Contemporary is considerable. These
stations are more current based than A/C
Reggaetón and Rhythmic was for a time in the
early 00's a format of its own, but few such stations
remain, all in Puerto Rico. Now, the elements of this format have
gone mainstream and are part of pop formats and
some songs even cross over to A/C.
Evolving Caribbean tropical formats may include some of
the songs, as might Rhythmic Crossover formats.
||There is a
growing attempt to create stations for second
generation Hispanics... those who were born in
the U.S. but who prefer a blend of mostly
English language pop with a smattering of the
big hits in Spanish. Some refer to this audience
segment as "H2O" meaning the second generation
of Hispanics.This format is constantly evolving
as station operators reach out for a way to
deliver listeners who don't generally use
all-Spanish language stations.
blend is a broad mix of 70's, 80's, 90's and
'00's sounds that were popular across
Mexico. The format generally includes classic
songs from genres that include adult
contemporary ballads, softer
pop, grupera, ranchera, light norteña, and cumbia...
|This format previously was limited to salsa
and merengue with an occasional bachata or
cumbia derivitive, but now may include reggaetón and other
or Specialty Formats
The Colombian cumbia is the base for this
format. Mexican artists adopted the style back
in the 60's and have added special touches, such
as the norteña and the grupera style cumbia
to the formula. In the US, cumbia may be an
element to regional Mexican.
Pop & AC
60's to 80's based format limited to pop,
ballads and rock 'n' roll songs by artists from
Latin America & Spain. The pure pop and AC
oldies variant is now generally restricted to
Puerto Rico and there are no examples on the
U.S. mainland since the early 2012 format flip
92.3 in Miami (now a salsa / tropical format).
A format based on
ranchera and mariachi songs, usually covering
many decades of music, sometimes back to the
50's. Because it appeals to
older listeners it is almost always an AM
format. The format tends to include some older
This format is on only
a handful of stations today, but has been a
significant factor in Texas markets in the past.
It now tends to blend Tejano with norteña
and other styles
There are many other
kinds of music that have appeal within
communities in the US with specific national
heritage. Some songs may be included in other
formats or there may be specific shows on
stations for these communities and styles. A few
examples are presented.