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Classic Country is a radio format that specializes in playing mainstream country hits from past decades.

This genre generally follows one of two formats:



The format resulted largely from mainstream country radio's now common practice of excluding older "classic" country artists from their playlists (despite the fact that many of these artists -- Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris -- were still actively performing and releasing new recordings). When mainstream country radio began this practice in the mid-1990s, a large segment of older country fans felt alienated and turned away from mainstream country. [1]

Dividing line

With a few exceptions, the classic country genre has struggled as a radio format (unlike mainstream country stations). While it has a fiercely loyal audience, classic country stations often struggle to find advertisers. While advertisers are primarily interested in the 18 to 49-year-old demographic age group, classic country usually attracts an older audience. For perhaps that reason, country music fans are often (stereotypically) divided into two camps:

  • The younger country music fan, especially if he or she is younger than 30 years old. Many of them have no interest in music from such artists as Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, and George Jones; sometimes, they are former rock and pop music fans.
  • The classic country fan, frequently over the age of 50, who -- with a few exceptions -- often dislikes country music produced after 1995, around the time Garth Brooks rose to fame. A frequent criticism is that much post-1990s country music is inferior to that of classic country artists and that the newer music is little more than repackaged pop and rock music, particularly the music of artists such as Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and Rascal Flatts.

Both stereotypes are often unfair and inaccurate. Many younger people have purchased music from and are self-proclaimed fans of classic country artists such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams (and many younger fans are quick to acknowledge the influence these classic country artists had on many of the newer artists they listen to). Many older listeners to country music do indeed enjoy newer music from artists like Kenny Chesney and Gretchen Wilson as well as the classics. ABC Radio's satellite-delivered Real Country radio format is an example of an approach that combines country oldies dating back to the 1960s with select current and recurrent hits.

There are a few artists who cross this dividing line between age groups. Dolly Parton (technically a Classic Country artist, as most of her defining hits occurred in the 1960s and '70s) is one such artist, being popular with the young and old alike (though not with mainstream country radio programmers since the mid-1990s).

Classic Country stations

  • WKRK (AM) Country Gold Radio located in Murphy, North Carolina and can be found online at
  • WLND Classic Country 98.1 The Legend. Highly successful Classic Country station located in Chattanooga Tennessee. The station streams online at
  • WRAY 98.1 FM (Princeton, Indiana) broadcasts a program called "Country Gold" each Saturday morning that features Classic Country for 3 hours while programming Mainstream Country the rest of the time.
  • KOMG 92.9 Bass Country Springfield, MO. Springfield Missouri station Playing Classic Country
  • WRVK 1460 AM in Renfro Valley, Kentucky. Renfro Valley, Kentucky radio station WRVK 1460 AM, broadcasting online 24/7.
  • CKMX Classic Country AM 1060. Canadian radio station broadcasting a mix of information and classic country music. Located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • KSCS Classic Country Saturday Night, 7pm-12 Midnight CT Country classics from Dallas, Texas.
  • KOOP Country Roots, Friday mornings, Austin, Texas.
  • Heartland Public Radio's Classic Heartland radio station with classic country, live from Branson, Missouri.
  • WMC-AM broadcasting from Memphis, Tennessee
  • WRAS A classic country show every Tuesday night from 10 PM-Midnight from Atlanta, GA
  • CFCY All request Saturday Night Hoedown from 6 until 9
  • KTTN-FM 92.3 FM Classic Hit Country in Trenton, Missouri
  • Country Legends 97.1, KTHT Houston, focuses on country hits from the 1960s thru 1980s. A number of Country Legends stations have been launched nationwide, including in Salt Lake City (KKAT-FM); Greensboro/Winston-Salem (WIST-FM); and Topeka (KTPK, which is consistently at or near the top of that market's ratings).
  • WOKY (AM920) in Milwaukee
  • KHEY-FM in El Paso, TX on 96.3 FM.
  • WKKP-AM Classic Country 1410 in McDonough, GA on 1410 AM. Covering the south Metro Atlanta area.
  • WIRL (AM) Classic Country on 1290 in Peoria, Illinois. This station covers a large portion of central Illinois, although it reduces broadcast power and coverage at night. WIRL also offers webcasts available to any Internet connected computer.
  • WBWN (FM) B-104 in Bloomington, Illinois plays classic country music on Sunday nights during a special radio program known as Classic Country With Eddie Bear. The program has been unofficially declared as the most popular radio program in the country music radio market of central Illinois. The station normally plays modern country music.
  • WKZU FM 104.9 Iuka, Mississippi. The Broadcast area is Northeastern Mississippi, Northwestern Alabama, and Southern West and Middle Tennessee.
  • WADM 1540 AM Classic Country 1540 in Decatur, Indiana.
  • WNKR 106.5 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • WDSJ 106.5 The Bull in Dayton, Ohio.
  • KKYX 680 Country Legends in San Antonio, Texas.
  • KFTI-FM (Classic Country 92.3) and KFTI (AM) (The Ranch 1070) in Wichita, Kansas.


External links



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