Best pop radio stations: Great radio stations for pop music
The best pop radio stations are often easier to find than some other musical genres in the US. Frequently regarded as some of the most “accessible” listening options, pop music stations appeal to listeners of all ages and backgrounds.
Currently, pop music in the USA isn’t quite as popular as it once was. Though rated as the second most sought-after music genre in 2018, pop has recently fallen down in the ranks. Currently, pop accounts for about 13.1% of all streaming, compared to hip-hop at 28.2%, and Rock at 16.3%.
Notably, pop is a lot more popular on online streaming services like YouTube, which may indicate some differences between what people listen to when streaming, and what we choose on the radio.
Today, we’re going to be listing some great pop music stations you can consider if you’re looking for something new to listen to.
What are pop music stations?
Pop music can be quite difficult to define, as it’s generally just classified as “popular” music. In most cases, when people reference “pop” they’re talking about the kinds of songs you’d hear on the charts, usually without any over-arching genres like rock or rap.
If you’re looking for pop music on the radio, you’re more likely to find the music you love on “top 40” broadcasts. These are the kinds of station which often play trending tunes from the charts.
Here are some of the best pop radio stations to explore…
Defined as a “contemporary hit” radio station, WWPW is licensed to Atlanta Georgia, and belongs to the well-known radio company, iHeartMedia. This pop music station plays a host of the latest trending tunes and songs from across the US region.
During the 70s, WWPW had a brief change in its programming strategy, flipping to the album rock format. Key artists commonly present on the station included the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Elton John.
It wasn’t until 2012 when the station flipped into the contemporary hits era.
The nationally syndicated Elvis Duran morning show was carried on this channel for two years, from 2012 to 2014. WWPW is also one of the many pop radio stations carrying the Ryan Seacrest syndicated show, often aired around midday.
Available: Online or 100.3 FM (Newark, New Jersey)
WHTZ is a commercial hit, and top 40 radio station broadcasting to the New York metro area. This is the number one flagship station for the Elvis Duran morning show. Aside from its standard analog transmission, WHTZ also broadcasts in HD radio, and streams online.
This station, which began as WVNJ, actually started broadcasting in 1958, before temporarily shutting down in 1983. The next day, a new version of the station with the WHTZ callsign appeared.
Within only 74 days of officially signing on, the station claimed from last to first place in the Arbitron New York ratings book.
Over the years, the WHTZ station has focused heavily on the pop and Top 40 genres, maintaining high ratings all the while. The station is also home to Sean, Hollywood Hamilton, who has now been inducted into the National Radio Hall of fame.
Playing Korean pop hits, the 113 FM online radio station celebrates one of the increasingly popular sub-genres of pop in the current music landscape. As interest in world pop music continues to grow, 113 FM gives listeners a chance to hear from artists they wouldn’t find elsewhere.
You can leave comments on the channel’s websites and make requests for your favorite music. While you probably won’t hear some of the more common pop songs you’re used to here, you can discover a huge selection of K-pop tunes.
113 FM focuses specifically on the most popular K-pop songs of the moment, so it’s a great way to catch up with some new content.
Available: Online or 107.9 FM (Medford, Massachusetts)
Serving the greater Boston area, WXKS-FM, or “Kiss 108” is a contemporary hits radio station owned by the iHeartMedia brand. Kiss 108 has risen in the rankings over the years to become one of New England and America’s most popular and beloved top 40 stations.
The pop radio station is best-known for its annual Kiss Concert.
Every year, the radio concert draws some of the biggest names in the pop industry to the Mansfield Xfinity Center.
The DJ Matt Siegel is also a popular and well-known feature of this radio station, appearing on the channel since 1981. His program even became nationally syndicated in the 1990s.
Kiss 108 was also the flagship station for the John Garabedian Open House Party. In 2007, the station dropped the Saturday edition of this show and replaced it with the Saturday Night Online program, hosted by Romeo.
Available: Online or 101. FM (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
WIXX is a contemporary hits radio station serving the Green Bay, Wisconsin area. The station, owned by Midwest Communications, is part of a selection of 8 stations on the current radio market.
Unlike many of the best pop radio stations listed in this article, this channel plays a wide selection of different musical genres.
A heritage top 40 station, the WIXX channel remains connected to its audience and their preferences through round-the-clock staff and music surveys. The flexibility of the station means it can introduce new music into the station, as well as Hot AC and modern rock, to accompany pop songs.
Over the years, WIXX has earned a number of honors, including the Station of the Year Award for the Top 40 and contemporary hits category in 2007.
For huge fans of pop music, the 80s will be a truly unforgettable era. Home to some of the biggest pop acts of all time, the 80s represents an iconic moment in the transformation of the genre. It’s little wonder many of the online pop radio stations are focused specifically on this decade.
The 1000 Hits 80s station is an entirely online radio station you can access on your computer or smartphone. Though the station focuses mainly on 80s pop, you’ll also find disco songs, rock music, and oldies from the 90s and 70s too.
The 1000 Hits station is more likely to play older songs, you might also hear the occasional chart topper thrown into the mix from time to time.
Available: Online or 99.7 FM (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
The WSHH radio station in Pennsylvania, also known as “Wish”, is best-known as an adult contemporary station, but it also plays a wide selection of pop songs and top hits. The WSHH current on-air staff includes drive time host Melanie Heinkel, as well as afternoon host Ron Antil.
WSHH made the switch to the adult contemporary format in 1989, pivoting away from the former easy listening option. While this channel has attempted to focus more heavily on “Hot AC” over the years, it’s also a good place to catch up with all kinds of new pop hits.
A top 40 and pop radio station in Chicago, WBBM is best known as B96. Owned by the Audacy Company, the station began with its experimental broadcasts way back in 1941. Over the years, the channel played a range of conservative music options until FM began to grow more popular.
In 1966, WBBM introduced its new “young sound” format, which aimed to share popular music with a younger audience. By 1973, this format had switched to “Top 40s”, but WBBM also spent some time experimenting with soft rock.
Finally, in 2008, WBBM returned to the pop music station strategy, and is now one of the better-known options for contemporary hits. The WBBM annual summer bash is extremely popular, featuring current pop artists.
One of the better-known shows on WBBM is the “Eddie and JoBo Morning Zoo Show, which was first signed on in 1984.
A popular digital radio channel, Z108 runs entirely online, and is available to stream via mobile applications if you want to access your radio on the move. Z108 is popular among lovers of the top 40 radio format, but it also plays a wide selection of standard pop and dance songs.
Part of what makes this online channel so popular, is its commitment to playing popular songs from throughout multiple generations – not just the latest music. You can find great songs from the 2000s, 90s, and 80s, which many people consider to be some of the best years for pop.
The station is officially located in Jackson, New Jersey, and even takes requests from listeners, so you can control some of the songs you listen to.
The K256AS pop radio station is an interesting addition to our list. Located in Hawaii and owned by iHeartMedia, the station was first granted a license in 2007.
In 2014, the format for the station was transformed to EDM/Dance. In 2016, this station changed direction again, now following a classic hip-hop format, with the 99.1 Jamz branding.
It’s only somewhat recently when the K256AS channel dropped their AC (Adult Contemporary) format, and changed to an Asian CHR format, better known as “PoP! 99.1. The station’s new format now features mostly K-pop, as well as collaborations with US artists.
This channel is home to a wide range of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino acts, and it’s a great pick if you’re looking for something a little different to the standard pop music stations
Otherwise known as KJ103, KJYO is a top 40 and pop music station serving the Oklahoma City area. Owned by the iHeartMedia brand, this station began broadcasting in 1961, with the adult standards format.
In 1977, it relaunched as a rock station called “The Zoo”.
When iHeartMedia took charge, and KJYO began losing its audience to Magic 104.1, it became an adult contemporary station. In 1981, KJYO adopted the “K-Joy” handle, and an easy listening format.
In 1983, the station took on the top 40 and pop genre but leaned more towards rhythmic top 40 jams.
These days, KJYO focuses more heavily on programs which help to generate attention for the iHeartRadio music festival. Various on-air personalities have included everyone from Bob Campbell to Mike Mckoy and Steve Summers.
Dash Radio is an online streaming service and app where fans can listen to all kinds of music genres. Dash has hundreds of station options to choose from, including those hosted by famous people like Snoop Dogg. The Pop X station is one of the best pop radio stations online.
Available on a host of different platforms, including via the Apple and Google app stores, Dash Pop X focuses on providing a wide selection of pop music songs, ranging from modern, trending tunes, to older classics.
You can stream the channel anywhere, and even check out Dash Hits X for a wider selection of top hits from different genres.
Dash also has the “Fusion” channel where you can find Pop and Latin music, or the “Pop Family” station for more kid-friendly songs.
Available: Online and 104.1 FM (Madison, Wisconsin)
Owned by iHeartMedia, WZEE is a pop music station from Madison, Wisconsin, serving the South Central Wisconsin area. The station originally launched in 1948 with the WKOW call-sign.
New ownership during the 50s altered the call sign to WMFM, and in the 70s, this channel began playing top 40 and pop music songs.
During its early years, the channel ran an automated top 40 format, but gradually decided to add more live and local programming into the mix.
The station was originally home to the popular drive-time morning channel of Connie and Fish in the early 2000s, though the pair eventually moved to WQBW.
Today, WZEE broadcasts as both a standard FM and HD radio signal. There’s also a HD2 sub-channel available which streams contemporary and hip-hop music. Common shows on the broadcast include the Elvis Duran show, and the Ryan Seacrest syndicated show.
Available: Online or 100.7 FM (Eau Claire, Wisconsin)
A lesser-known local radio station in the Wisconsin area, the WBIZ station is one of the most popular stations for pop music in the region. The channel broadcasts in the Top 40 and contemporary hits format, and it’s currently owned by the iHeartMedia brand.
Originally signing on in 1967, WBIZ is better-known as Z100, and it’s home to a range of fantastic shows, including the syndicated “On Air with Ryan Seacrest”, and the “Most Requested” show with Romeo.
You can also check out iHeartRadio top chart hit countdowns here.
WBIX also serves as the radio home to the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers football team, so you can catch up on local sports too.
Widely regarded as the top pop music station in the Ohio region, WNCI is owned by iHeartMedia, and it’s the flagship station for the widely syndicated Dave and Jimmy show. The WNCI station has, like many of the best radio stations, changed format a few times over the years.
WNCI officially began its top 40 programming approach in 1970, though the station also had a progressive rock section during the evenings. From 1979 to 1982, WNCI also began exploring adult contemporary music formats to compete with the WTVN channel.
Today, WNCI has returned back to its genre of mainstream and rhythmic top 40 music. You’ll find a wide selection of music styles on this channel, as well as plenty of opportunities to find new artists.
WNCI was also once the flagship station of the 17 station group, Nationwide Communications.
Available: Online and 104.7 FM (Columbia, South Carolina)
A commercial radio station frequently described as the number one hit music station for the Midlands, WONK is the property of iHeartMedia. This channel first appeared on the air in 1959, when it was owned by the Palmetto Radio corporation.
In the late 1960s, WNOK and WNOK-FM ended their simulcasting, and 1230 WNOK went with their “top 40 sound”, and 104.7 WNOK explored the beautiful music format, mainly through automation.
During the 1970s, WNOK gradually became more of a soft adult contemporary station, before gradually switching to the full Mainstream Top 40 sound in December 1976.
By 1980, the automation was removed completely, and WNOK began using local, live disc jockeys as a way of connecting with listeners.
The best stations for pop music
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to listing good radio stations for pop music. Today’s list covers a handful of the pop radio stations available to listeners in the US. Many of these stations also have online streams which you can access all over the world.
As always, remember it’s worth checking your local stations for some great pop music from time to time too. Many radio channels change their formatting over time, and some might begin exploring more contemporary hits or top 40s music options to earn more popularity.
Check out our other lists for insights into some R&B, rock, hip hop and various other radio stations around the United States.