Classic hits is a radio format which generally includes songs from the top 40 music charts from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, with music from the 1980s serving as the core of the format. Music that was popularized by MTV in the early 1980s and the nostalgia behind it is a major driver to the format. It is considered the successor to the oldies format, a collection of top 40 songs from the late 1950s through the late 1970s that was once extremely popular in the United States. The term is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for the adult hits format, which uses a slightly newer music library stretching from all decades to the present with a major focus on 1990s and 2000s rock and alternative songs. In addition, adult hits stations tend to have larger playlists, playing a given song only a few times per week, compared to the tighter libraries on classic hits stations. For example, KRTH, a classic hits station in Los Angeles, plays power songs up to 30 times a week, which is another differentiator compared to other formats that share songs with classic hits libraries.
The classic hits format has become extremely popular in the last few years with stations like KRTH, WCBS-FM in New York, and WLS-FM in Chicago having successful ratings with this model. Classic hits was named “format of the summer of 2018″ by Nielsen Audio’s research team emphasizing the huge popularity of the format. In addition, the Millennial generation is listening to this format in record numbers, according to a Nielsen report. As of December 2019 there are now over 1,100 classic hits stations in the United States, the largest amount in format history.