Adult album alternative (also triple-A, AAA, or adult alternative) is a radio format.[2][3][4][5] Its roots trace to both the "classic album stations of the ’70s as well as the alternative rock format that developed in the ’80s."[6]


The format has a broader, more diverse playlist than most other formats. Musical selection tends to be on the fringe of mainstream pop and rock. It also includes many other music genres such as indie rock, Americana, pop rock, classic rock, alternative rock, new wave, alternative country, jazz, folk, world music, jam band and blues. The musical selections tend to avoid hard rock and rap music. Music selection also includes tracks from albums that are not singles, which leads to the enhanced and larger playlist. Some AAA outlets focus more on classic rock artists, folk and blues while others focus on more contemporary artists and modern/indie rock.[2][7][8]


Some of the songs that first air on the Triple-A format have later found additional popularity on the Adult Top 40, modern rock, or adult contemporary charts months after their initial Triple-A chart runs. The format is often seen as a "test market" for emerging artists.[2][9]

The format has gone off and on in the Los Angeles radio market. Currently KCSN and simulcast partner KSBR broadcast a Triple A format in the Los Angeles and Orange Country areas respectively. The format still exists in New York City (WFUV); Chicago (WXRT); Philadelphia (WXPN); Minneapolis (KCMP); Boston (WXRV, WERS, and Americana leaning WUMB-FM); Baltimore (WTMD); Aspen, Colorado (KSPN-FM); Boise, Idaho (KRVB); Denver (KBCO and KVOQ); Fort Collins (KJAC); Pittsburgh (WYEP); Astoria (KBGE); Bend (KLRR); Eugene (KRVM); Portland, Oregon (KINK); Portland, Maine (WCLZ); Indianapolis (WTTS); Nashville (WRLT, WNXP, and Americana leaning WMOT); Conway, New Hampshire (WMWV); Burlington, Vermont (WNCS); Seattle, Washington; (KMIH); Spokane (KPND); Turners Falls-Northampton, Massachusetts (WRSI); Bozeman, Montana (KMMS-FM); Woodstock, New York (WDST); Austin (KGSR-HD2, KUTX, and KTSN); Columbia, Missouri (KBXR); and Dallas (KKXT).[9][10][11][12] The now-defunct KFOG was a legendary Triple A station in the San Francisco Bay Area.[13][14][15]

On July 10, 2008 Billboard began a Triple-A chart (using information from sister-publication Radio and Records, a news magazine devoted to the radio and the music industries that has since ceased publication). Rival Mediabase 24/7 also compiles a Triple A chart. As of mid-2009, Radio and Records publications and accompanying charts were discontinued. As of 2010, Billboard publishes Triple A charts in the magazine and for its premium members on its website. Mediabase also publishes Triple A charts on a daily basis.

Additional Triple-A charts are published by CMJ and FMQB. FMQB also produces the annual Triple A Conference in Boulder, Colorado, USA, an event that grew out of the Gavin Report's Triple A Summit, first held in 1993. FMQB took over production of the event, rebranding it as the Triple A Conference, after the closing of Radio & Records in 2009.

At the end of 2019, FMQB closed and all Triple A services were absorbed by Jack Barton Entertainment, LLC (JBE), helmed by Jack Barton, former VP/Triple A at FMQB. JBE has rebranded the Boulder convention as the Triple A SummitFest and continues to publish weekly Triple A charts, including a Non-Commercial album chart, as well as a weekly newsletter (JBE Triple A Report) covering Triple A radio and the music it plays.

See also


  1. ^ "Adult Alternative Pop/Rock". AllMusic. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "At 'Triple A' Radio Stations, A Blurred Line Between Discovery and Promotion".
  3. ^ Bachman, Katy (September 3, 2001). "Adult Album Alternative outlets balance acts" (Free PDF download). Mediaweek. 11 (32). New York City: 9–10. Retrieved September 4, 2021. See pages 9 and 10
  4. ^ Mills, Joshua. "A New Radio Music Format: Rock for Prosperous Adults" New York Times, Feb 28 1994, p. 2. ProQuest. Web. Accessed September 4, 2021. See also New York Times archive.
  5. ^ Staples, Brent. "Rock-and-Roll for Grown-Ups: The Record Business Gets a Scare." New York Times, Dec 23 1996, p. 1. ProQuest. Web. Accessed September 4, 2021. See also New York Times archive.
  6. ^ "KERA's New Station: What is Adult Album Alternative, Anyway?". Art&Seek. June 10, 2009.
  7. ^ "True Discovery: Triple A on noncommercial public radio".
  8. ^ Grossman, Jeff. "A 'Terrestrial' Station, Unafraid of the Satellite Programmers See a Wider View of what Rock is, and Showcase the Human Element of Radio." New York Times July 10, 2005, p. 1. ProQuest. Web. September 4, 2021. See also New York Times archive.
  9. ^ a b Mills, Joshua. "WNEW Gambles on Elite Rock Hybrid: Seeking Listeners Who Crave what they Half-Know. WNEW-FM Gambles on Elite Rock Hybrid." New York Times, Aug 01 1995, p. 2. ProQuest. Web. Accessed September 4, 2021. See also New York Times archive.
  10. ^ "Adult Alternative Album Format Back on Dial". Los Angeles Times. October 24, 1998.
  11. ^ "KCSN-KSBR FM merger aims to create new Southland public radio powerhouse". Los Angeles Times. September 6, 2017.
  12. ^ "In from Indianapolis, Laura Duncan named program chief of WXRT - Robert Feder".
  13. ^ Bartlett, Amanda (August 26, 2019). "'We knew this was gonna happen': SF radio station going quiet". SFGATE. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  14. ^ Moffitt, Mike (September 6, 2019). "Fogheads react as KFOG goes off air for good". SFGATE. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  15. ^ Bartlett, Amanda (September 3, 2020). "New Bay Area radio station, Highway 1, just might fill the void left behind by KFOG". SFGATE. Retrieved December 20, 2023.