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TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Continuing Radio’s Reach

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Arbitron recently released data that finds that 233 million people listen to radio each week, which represents an increase of more than a million listeners from a year ago.  Among its findings is the fact that 95 percent of adults ages 18 to 49 with a college degree and an annual household income of at least $50,000 are tuning in.  These strong numbers span ethnic demographic groups as well, with listenership among Black Non-Hispanics at 94 percent and Hispanics at 95 percent.  While there is evidence of a slight decline in younger listeners, overall, radio listenership maintained its strength among the coveted 18 to 49 demographic.

In our more than 10 years of experience in the radio arena, we find that consumers continue to count on radio for their local news, traffic and weather.  Radio is the go-to choice for many consumers, with morning drive radio in particular providing listeners with the news and traffic they need to start their day.  Since broadcast radio’s beginning in the 1920s, there have always been naysayers.  And, with every new technology that comes along, the critics predicted the end of the medium.

Television’s arrival brought dire predictions of the end of radio’s relevancy.  Who after all would want to listen to radio when they could watch moving pictures?  But radio adapted, maintained and even grew its audience.  When cable and the Internet came along, media pundits again predicted radio’s demise, but radio adopted streaming online content, among other things, to extend its listening audience and brand.

Now MP3 players have media analysts predicting that radio will surely falter.  Again, radio is responding by providing things that listeners get best from radio, like local and breaking news, weather, traffic, and special listener programming.  And by providing streaming and MP3 downloads, radio is embracing the very technology that was said to mean its downfall.

We often survey radio stations about their audience and programming and consistently find that stations, rather than running away from new technologies, are embracing them to extend their listening audience and provide another outlet for branding and promoting their programming.  If any medium has demonstrated staying power, it is radio.  As the cassette tape, walkman, discman, and other consumer mediums, have been ushered into the dustbin of technology’s yesteryear, radio has remained.  And as television now begins the switch to a digital signal, radio likewise has increased its quality and accessibility through HD radio, satellite radio, streaming, podcasting, and a strong web presence.  So tune in to radio and see what all the fuss is about – news, talk, music, weather, traffic, laughter and tears – all without those distracting moving pictures.

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