Dance radio

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Dance radio is a format that consists of current and recent dance and electronic music.

While the format is popular in Europe and Asia, it has yet to make an impact in North America, although there are several top 40 and rhythmic radio stations which include current dance music in their playlists. As of June 2014, there were six stations (four full-time and three part-time) on FM in various US markets. Dance radio is also present on secondary HD radio streams, satellite, cable and Internet. In much of Europe there are national and local dance stations and it is a popular pirate radio format.

It's a valid observation to note that American commercial radio's definition of dance music has almost always been marginal, consisting primarily of mainstream music and artists who are firstly pop and urban acts.


Most of dance radio's origins can be traced to the early days of disco in the late 1970s, when WKTU New York, WBLS New York, and WRKS 98.7 KISS-FM New York made the format a staple on the airwaves. But by the end of the decade, the format began to experience a backlash when sentiments over the music began to force several stations to move on to other genres, with most of them moving to what would become urban contemporary, led by such stations as WAMO-FM Pittsburgh, WLUM-FM Milwaukee and WHRK Memphis. These stations kept the dance sound alive while at the same time mixed it in with the R&B, hip hop, and pop songs of the 1980s. At the same time, another former disco outlet, WXKS-FM Medford/Boston, became very successful in taking the urban-dance sound into a top 40 format.

By the mid-1980s, more stations began to adopt the same formula that has worked for WXKS-FM, such as KMEL in San Francisco, while at the same time more artists were incorporating dance styles into their hits. The concept would go a bit further in 1986, when KPWR Power 106 Los Angeles and its sister station WQHT HOT 103 New York (later becoming HOT 97 by 1988) debuted a "Top 40 Crossover" dance format, thus paving the way for more stations to jump onto this genre, such as WPOW Power 96 in Miami by 1988. This format would later become known as Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio, or Contemporary Hit Urban (CHUrban) by the 1990s.

In the USA, the nation's first full-time dance radio format began airing in August 1991 when Los Angeles college radio station KSCR controversially changed its format from alternative rock to the "Pulse of the ’90s" techno/rave format. KSCR continued airing this format until September 1993, when it switched back to alternative rock.

The USA's first commercial full-time dance radio format was MARS-FM, airing in Los Angeles and Orange County, California on 103.1 FM KSRF/KOCM from late 1991 to late 1992. The rave-inspired format was created by KROQ DJs Swedish Egil and Freddy Snakeskin. 103.1 FM would later be the home of several subsequent Los Angeles dance radio formats: "Groove Radio" (1996–1998), "Groove 103.1" (1998) and "KDL" (2003).

After the demise of MARS-FM, the former general manager of KSCR, who had been responsible for that station's change to a dance format, created a nighttime leased-time format from 1993 to 1994 at Santa Ana's KWIZ 96.7 FM called Renegade Radio, a dance music/techno format hosted by DJ Racer and former MARS-FM DJ Mike "Fright" Ivankay. Renegade Radio also broadcast MARS-FM music director Swedish Egil's syndicated Groove Radio program, which later became a full-time local dance/electronica format at 103.1 KACD/KBCD.

In 1996, with Groove Radio making its debut in Los Angeles, WKTU New York was revived. This would be followed by stations in other cities looking to duplicate its success.

In 2002, WPYM Miami would take the Dance format to a new level. The station's success would result in other newcomers adopting the "Pure Dance" format, but the lack of support from advertisers and issues from signal coverage to ratings would force several stations out the format. Despite the lack support from Top 40 and Rhythmic radio, the Dance format has continued to thrive at stations like KNHC Seattle and on satellite radio.

In 2008 Clear Channel dropped two HD dance channels, leaving Club Phusion and Pride Radio as the company's only dance offerings. In November 2008 the merged Sirius XM made cuts in music channels which included eight of the ten Dance stations on XM and Sirius, while WorldSpace satellite radio filed for bankruptcy protection, resulting in The System's discontinuation on XM. 2008 had the most dance music stations lost in recent years.

On October 31, 2008, KNRJ Phoenix went off the air, followed by the November 2008 channel merge of XM and Sirius which resulted in the elimination of Chrome, The Strobe, The Move, The System, Boombox, and the merging of The Beat with BPM and Sirius Chill with XM Chill. Sirius XM returned The Strobe to the channel lineup in January 2009 after a backlash from subscribers over the removal of both classic dance channels, which left no channel playing that music.

In 2009, Music Choice pared down its dance offerings by merging its Dance and Electronica channels, while Mega Media's plan to expand its Pulse 87 brand to Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. failed to occur. Mega Media, which leased WNYZ-LP from station owner Island Broadcasting, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2009, citing $3.5 million in liabilities against assets of $180,000. Island ended its leasing deal with Mega for WNYZ on October 30, 2009, and WNYZ signed off the air the same day. The following Monday, Party 105.3 on Long Island added 87.7 as a simulcast. In September 2009, KNGY/San Francisco was flipped by new owner Royce International to Top 40/CHR, but the following month KMVQ filled the void by adding a HD2 subchannel called "Pulse Radio."

As of 2010, the WPTY simulcast on WNYZ, WMPH Wilmington, Delaware and became casualties of due to financial situations. However, KXRG-LP Honolulu, which signed off the air in 2007 after their frequency was taken over by KORL-FM, returned to the air at a new frequency, followed by the July 3, 2010 debut of WWAC Atlantic City with a Dance-intensive Rhythmic Top 40 format. In December 2010 KBPA Austin's HD2 channel "Mega HD2" returned to the airwaves on a low-powered translator, but after a few days returned to WBPA's HD2 subchannel.

In 2011, Clear Channel's iHeartRadio relaunched the Trance/Electronica HD2 subchannel Trancid, while WWAC, under new ownership, shifted to a regular Top 40/CHR direction. Even WPTY would exit the format, shifting to Rhythmic AC after seeing more potential in that format after doing a series of "throwback" weekends. On the other hand, KVBE Las Vegas replaced its Dance format with Rock but the Dance format went over to another rimshot outlet, KYLI. KRXV/KHWY/KHYZ Barstow/Mountain Pass, California, which also serves Las Vegas, dropped their Hot AC format to relaunch KVBE's former Dance format and adopts its former "Vibe" moniker the following September. Also that same month, WPGC-FM Washington, D.C., a station whose programming history included stints in the Disco and Dance genres, launched a HD2 subchannel billed as "Area 95.5." Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CHWE-FM debuted with a Top 40/Dance presentation, billed as "Energy 106."

In 2012, KXJM Portland, Oregon would bring the Dance format to the local HD airwaves with the launch of "Too Wild," while in Halifax, Nova Scotia, CKHZ-FM, a Top 40 that was launched in 2006 with a Dance-leaning direction before shifting to a regular Top 40/CHR presentation in 2009, returned to its Dance roots and rebranded itself as "Energy 103.5," using the same direction as sister station CHWE. This was followed by WOLT-FM Greenville, South Carolina adding Dance mixes to its brokered programming schedule, KDHT-FM Denver bringing the format back to that market and WARG Summit/Chicago joining KNHC in being the second current high school outlet in the United States to offer a Dance format but on a part-time basis. Another surprise move would also take place in late April 2012, when WPTY returned to playing Dance full-time after a brief stint as a Rhythmic AC. By November 2012 KDHT would drop the format for Adult Hits, but in December 2012, WHBA, who had been programming an Adult Hits format in Boston, went the other way around and made headlines by flipping to an EDM-focused presentation, billed as "Evolution 101.7," with the call sign WEDX.

As of 2013, the Dance format would see WOLT change format to Oldies and dropping brokered programming while it picked up another full-time outlet, this time in Gainesville, Florida, where on June 1, JVC Media, the owner of WPTY, expanded its "Party" brand to its newly acquired property WBXY, followed in November by non-commercial outlet KVIT Phoenix.

In January 2014, WPCF/W227CE Panama City Beach, Florida, which previously programmed a "Trop-Rock" format, flipped to Dance under the operation of Patrick Pfeffer, owner of Club La Vela, a dance club in Panama City Beach, followed by KXTE Las Vegas launching a HD2 subchannel called "SIN107.5." The same month saw Mediabase and All Access team up to launch a Top 50 Dance Airplay chart with 23 stations reporting.[1] On June 13, 2014, WEDX flipped from Dance to Country but moved its format over to the HD2 subchannel of Top 40/CHR sister WXKS-FM.

By 2015, Miami would once again have a full-time Dance station when Zoo Communications took over the translators of WHYI and later WMIA (at 93.5), which later coincided with the launch of WZFL in 2016 and later expanded to West Palm Beach with the acquisition of WBGF in August 2017.

On May 3rd, 2019 at 5PM, the Research Triangle region of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill) welcomed NC State University's WolfBytes Radio onto 88.1 WKNC HD3. The station had been online-only up until that point. [2]

Stations in the United States[edit]

With the increasing electronic dance music scene in the United States, there are several terrestrial radio stations in the country that broadcast a dance-oriented format as their primary programming. Joel Salkowitz, program director of Pulse 87 and Las Vegas station KYLI, has argued that the format is not as widespread in the country because popular EDM songs often cross over into the playlists of contemporary hit radio and rhythmic contemporary stations, presuming that major station owners would not want the listenership of their pop and rhythmic-oriented stations to be cannibalized by an EDM-specific outlet.[3][4][5]



Low-power FM[edit]

HD stations[edit]

Audio and cable[edit]

Satellite radio[edit]

U.S.-based Internet radio[edit]

Stations in Australia[edit]

Stations in New Zealand[edit]

Stations in Canada[edit]

  • CHWE-FM Winnipeg (technically CHR, but feature Dance/EDM currents)
  • CIDC-FM Orangeville (technically Rhythmic contemporary, but feature Dance/EDM currents)
  • CIRR-FM Toronto (technically Hot AC/CHR, but features Dance/EDM currents)
  • CKBE-FM Montreal (technically Rhythmic adult contemporary, but features Dance/EDM currents)
  • CJLL-FM Ottawa (simulcasts internet station DJ.FM everyday from 12-6 AM local time)

Stations in Mexico[edit]

Stations in Europe[edit]

Internet radio outside the U.S.[edit]


HD Radio



  • WFSH - Fresh 106 New York
  • Music ONE
  • Party Radio USA



Low-power FM

Low-power TV audio (also heard on FM)

Music charts[edit]

Dance Music Internet Radio Directories[edit]


  1. ^ "All Access Debuts Dance Music Format Section" from All Access (January 24, 2014)
  2. ^ WolfBytes Radio Moves from Internet to 88.1 (May 3rd, 2019), retrieved 2024-03-03
  3. ^ "Does EDM Work on Radio? Behind a Boston Station's Pivot from Dance to Country". Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Clear Channel converts 101.7 to country music format". Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  5. ^ Chesto, John (June 13, 2014). "Clear Channel brings a new country music station to Boston". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  6. ^ "Eastern NC's Surge Expanding to New Bern". 15 February 2016.