Hot Off the Press: What Research is Telling Us TODAY About Radio Listenership

Cox Media Group Tampa

Whatever you’ve heard or thought about radio listenership today, ignore it. Radio, like all traditional media in today’s digitally-dominated world, is constantly changing. Even facts thought to be true two years ago have become out of date and no longer relevant. Staying up-to-date on what research tells us about radio listenership can help your business adapt its own radio marketing strategy.

Millennials are Today’s Listeners
When we picture the typical radio listener, you may imagine the older businessperson commuting from the office or the senior staying up to date with a favorite talk program. However, Nielsen’s recent research has actually shown that radio listenership today is actually dominated by Millennial listeners. To break the numbers down further, 66.6 million are those between the ages of 18-34 whereas, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers share a combined 57.9 million weekly listeners. They are not just casual listeners- the coveted sector listens to an average of more than 11 hours per week. This research shows that traditional media platforms like radio is as close to a ‘sure thing’ as one could get for marketing effectively to Millennials.

Radio’s Reach is Higher Than Ever Before
In August of 2015, Inside Radio reported that radio had hit a significant milestone — it had reached its all-time highest listenership ever, 245 million. Furthermore, 93% of Americans listen to radio, which is significant compared to radio’s biggest competitor, television, which tops out at 87%, according to Observer. While radio is flourishing, television is faltering, seeing a 32% drop in viewership over the past four years. Radio is simply here to stay and is even growing.

Radio Travels
When online radio became a sensation, many predicted that there would be a return of listening to the radio in the home. However, trends are showing the opposite. NewsGeneration states that 42% of radio listening occurs in the car compared to 24% at home. The average commute is 25.4 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and many listeners still rely on programming such as traffic, weather, news, and entertainment to beat commuter woes. On the other hand, NewsGeneration also shows that 21% of radio listening happens inside the office. This is great news for advertisers who want to reach affluent or fully employed individuals. Over 82 million radio listeners hold a full time job according to Digiday.

Diversity in Listening
Radio has no racial or ethnic bounds. According to Nielsen, almost 1/3rd of radio listeners are either black or Hispanic meaning that these two groups alone listen to more radio per week than any other. In a market like Tampa where Hispanic populations are on a significant rise, that could mean a huge opportunity to buy into an engaged and growing listenership. Investing in Spanish language advertising can be one way to attract new ears, but Nielsen also shows that Hispanics tune into English contemporary pop (12.1 share) and rhythm contemporary (11.6) programming over all other formats except for non-Mexican Regional stations.

Radio Crosses Markets
Radio is not confined to buttons, dials, and speakers. Radio listeners continue to interact via station’s websites, social media pages, and concerts/events. The three essentially play into one another. As SoCast puts it, listeners tune in to local radio looking for personality or content relevant to their lives. They’re seeking out more engagement, so they follow their favorite DJs on social media, read about a reported news story on the station’s website, or compete to win tickets to a radio sponsored event. When businesses cross promote their work on air, online or at events, they can build brand awareness via a trusted voice in the community.

A Return to Radio
The idea that radio is fading into the background or becoming a dinosaur among advertising mediums has been put to rest. Not only has radio made gains where other areas have fallen, their numbers are continually holding steady and are even attracting audiences that businesses typically have a harder time reaching. With new ways to engage, such as social media and events, radio’s listeners are more ready than ever before to tune in.

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