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In the music industry, the top 40 is the current, 40 most-popular songs in a particular genre. It is the best-selling or most frequently broadcast popular music. Record charts have traditionally consisted of a total of 40 songs. "Top 40" or "contemporary hit radio" is also a radio format.


According to producer Richard Fatherley, Todd Storz was the inventor of the format, at his radio station KOWH in Omaha, Nebraska.[1] Storz used what he saw from the repetition of plays on the jukebox to develop his platform. The format was commercially successful, and Storz and his father Robert, under the name of the Storz Broadcasting Company, subsequently acquired other stations to use the new Top 40 format. In 1989 Todd Storz was inducted into the Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.[2][page needed]

The term "Top 40" for a radio format appeared in 1960.[3] The Top 40, whether surveyed by a radio station or a publication, was a list of songs that shared only the common characteristic of being newly released. Its introduction coincided with a transition from the old ten-inch 78 rpm record format for single "pop" recordings to the seven-inch vinyl 45 rpm format, introduced in 1949, which was outselling it by 1954 and soon replaced it completely in 1958. The Top 40 thereafter became a survey of the popularity of 45 rpm singles and their airplay on the radio. Some nationally syndicated radio shows, such as American Top 40, featured a countdown of the 40 highest ranked songs on a particular music or entertainment publication. Although such publications often listed more than 40 charted hits, such as the Billboard Hot 100, time constraints allowed for the airing of only 40 songs; hence, the term "top 40" gradually became part of the vernacular associated with popular music.

From the 1980s onwards, different recording formats have competed with the 45 rpm vinyl record such as cassette singles, CD singles, digital downloads and streaming. Many music charts changed their eligibility rules to incorporate some or all of these.

Some disc jockeys of Top 40 and similar format programs have been implicated in various payola scandals. See also: Mainstream Top 40

Top 40 music charts and programs

The following run charts or programs consisting a total of 40 tracks:

Name Notes
American Top 40 radio airplay countdown
3 Austria Top 40 airplay + sales chart
Dutch Top 40 airplay + streaming and social media trends
Los 40 Principales Spanish chart
Take 40 Australia Australian top 40 countdown
The Official Chart UK sales + streaming chart on BBC Radio 1
The Net 40 a worldwide user generated Top 40 show


  1. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (1998). Dick Fatherly Knows Best (from The Hits Just Keep Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio). Miller Freeman Books. ISBN 0-87930-547-9. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Fisher, Marc (2007). Something In The Air: Radio, Rock & The Revolution. Random House Books. ISBN 978-0-375-50907-0. Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Timeline/Fun Facts," Broadcasting & Cable, Nov. 21, 2011.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Top 40", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

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