Adult Contemporary

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Adult Contemporary ( AC , in German grown up, contemporary ) is a worldwide broadcast radio format that mainly offers melodic pop music standards from the last decades to the present day. In general terms, AC stations are referred to as music stations, hit radio or accompanying programs due to their focus on mostly popular music titles with little moderation. Critics of this format also use the pejorative term " bag radio" .


An AC radio program is characterized by ease of audibility with the aim of ensuring that the listeners follow the program for as long as possible and, in particular, are not deterred by commercials . The music content is high and usually only interrupted by more or less short presentations. On some stations, the following music tracks are indicated in front of commercials. Another aim is the recognizability of the program in order to achieve a good result in telephone audience measurements. Practically all AC transmitters therefore use a slogan that is often intended to reflect the music positioning and is consciously named after each piece of music on many transmitters. Many station slogans contain a reference to variety or mixture in the music, as this property is rated particularly positively by listeners according to surveys. Some stations also use the station name in their slogan.


The length of presentations can be limited to a few seconds on some AC transmitters, e.g. B. by generally speaking only on the intro of music titles ( ramp moderation ). Such a short moderation occurs regularly on practically all AC stations (example: "This is Radio XY, 20 minutes to twelve, let's go into the lunch break with a super hit by Whitney Houston ..."). With some AC transmitters, however, presentations can be up to several minutes long. B. include an interview with a listener or an expert or announce a journalistic contribution ("BmO": contribution with original sound ), whereby some AC broadcasters do without such content entirely. A characteristic of many, but not all, AC programs is background music for word contributions, which is also intended to increase audibility. While the 2-minute-30 rule (no posts longer than two and a half minutes) was common in the 1990s, this limit has shifted downwards in recent years. This is sometimes handled differently at different times of the day: In the morning hours, more frequent and longer verbal contributions are the rule (often consisting of comedy or service elements such as weather or traffic service), some stations also make longer speeches in the evening and night hours, then often with discussion or panel discussions in which the listeners can participate by telephone. There are different motivations for the latter, be it a strategic increase in the proportion of words for different reasons (license requirements, saving GEMA and GVL fees) or to consciously set a contrast to the music-heavy daily program or to experiment. During the daytime (approx. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) the music content in AC programs is generally rather high. Often only music is played during the night, as many AC transmitters fully automate at night, i.e. let the computer control the entire program sequence. Sometimes, however, recorded moderations ( voice tracking ) are also interspersed here. With many AC transmitters, emphasis is placed on the strategic development of an “on-air personality”. This is usually the morning moderator, who positions certain personality traits in order to strengthen the listener's recognizability and identification. While some broadcasters can only have one personality, with other broadcasters several or even all moderators have one or more characteristics that are repeatedly penetrated for the purpose of recognition.

Music selection

The music lists of AC stations often include a mix of melodic pop and rock music. Contrary to what is shown in the program, the music lists are usually strictly computer-aided and created on the basis of strategic considerations and cannot be spontaneously influenced by the moderator. Most broadcasters do not respond to music requests or only do so in the evening and night hours, when there is a weak audience. The number of music titles actually played varies greatly from station to station and is usually between 150 and 800 titles, which are exchanged from time to time and often on the basis of the results of music research. The most popular music tracks usually rotate the most. The so-called A rotation, i.e. the time it takes for a title categorized as very popular to repeat itself, can in the extreme extreme case last from under an hour to several hours. AC stations often face the dilemma that listeners complain about too many repetitions, but on the other hand music research shows that only a few pieces of music are very popular at the moment. A penetration with a few, very popular pieces of music also supports the recognition value of a station. Many broadcasters differentiate between daytime and night-time rotation, which usually means that a rotation with fewer pieces of music is played in the daytime program than in the evening and at night. There are often longer “music sweeps” with AC stations, three or four tracks without a break.


More or less elaborate competitions are typical of AC broadcasters , although recurring classics have emerged in recent years ("We pay your bill, recognize the noise, report with our slogan on the phone" etc.), which from many stations are repeated in different variations. Often the lottery periods have a significant overlap with the time period, be made in the telephone polls for the measurement of audience because the transmitter hope, by a lottery (Major Promotion ) to achieve a greater sensitivity to the listeners for its transmitter.

Journalistic content

Information is only given in short service reports, although most AC transmitters in Germany also send messages between two and four minutes in length once an hour, often every half hour in the morning hours. Almost all AC transmitters also send weather and traffic information all day, often supplemented with information about speed traps.


AC formats are mostly aimed at the advertising-relevant target group , i.e. people between the ages of 14 and 49 years, whereby a special focus can be set depending on the program orientation (e.g. 14–39, 20–49, 30–59 etc.) .). In fact, there are very different interpretations of what exactly is meant by the AC format. However, the following sub-genres have become established that allow a more concrete interpretation.

  • Hot AC: A slightly younger version with more recent titles. The most popular hits of the last 20 years are also played. To be seen as a middle ground between the pure youth format Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) and the other AC formats. An example of this is Bayern 3 .
  • Current-Based AC: A combination of current pop music and classics from the 1980s and 1990s. Less progressive than the Hot AC format. An example of this is rbb 88.8 .
  • Oldie-Based AC: A slightly older variant with a focus on oldies and evergreens from the 1970s and 1980s. Current songs are played sporadically. An example of this is WDR 4 .
  • Major AC: Service and information-oriented with a broad mix of music that is used as a style-defining element. An example of this is Antenne Brandenburg .
  • Soft AC: Defined primarily by a high proportion of ballads. One example is Radio Paradiso .

There are any combinations of different sub-formats, so a mixture of Hot AC and Oldie AC (Jammin 'Oldies) is also popular, especially in the United States.

Other mostly modified genres are Euro AC with additional French, Italian and German titles, Modern AC with partly alternative and moderate rock elements and Relaxed AC (RAC) with jazz-pop.


In the 1960s, Billboard magazine established the easy-listening charts in the United States , which were far from the newly emerged rock'n'roll. They included more traditional titles that were mostly played on the radio during this period. After a few years, this name was no longer considered up-to-date, as Easy Listening was more associated with the so-called " elevator music ". The Billboard magazine introduced the term Adult Contemporary.

The new adult contemporary charts experienced an upswing in particular thanks to the singer-songwriter movement of the 1970s. Leonard Cohen , Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash were important representatives . As a result, radio programs developed in the United States that focused exclusively on this new group of listeners and, in addition to the current titles, also played established songs that the audience had grown up with.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Radio format in the Medialexikon of  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  2. Radio formats. In: February 4, 2007, archived from the original on February 18, 2010 ; Retrieved April 5, 2014 .
  3. ^ A b "Adult Contemporary" , in: