Radio’s Resiliency

If we look at the last two years of the blind media coverage given to the pure plays, Wall Street’s infatuation with all things digital, and an irrational and costly rush by advertisers to social media and digital platforms, (ROI anyone?) you would think that Broadcast Radio was losing listeners, and perhaps its nine decades of absolute reinvention and resiliency.

We are told the media landscape today is a fractured, highly selective, and uber targeted environment and with so many consumer choices and distractions that have sprung up (or at least that’s what we have been told) over the past two years that directly compete with Radio’s listeners and their attention, you’d bet good money that Broadcast Radio was…on the ropes or at the very least, declining.

The problem here is that none of that is true. 

The line goes around the block on all those devices and theories that had Broadcast Radio dead decades ago. TV was to kill Radio over 50 years ago, as was cassettes and 8-tracks, then Satellite Radio, Podcasts, Pure plays, Cable, Xbox, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, iTunes, Netflix, Google TV, Amazon TV, Hulu, the Internet, low powered FMs, good weather, bad weather, consolidation, and of course, the pure plays.

The problem with that theory is that someone forgot to tell that to Radio’s listenership.

You see, a funny thing has been happening to Radio’s cume listenership over the past two years; it’s growing… right here in Southern California.

If we look at the average weekly Cume for Adults 25-54, Monday-Sunday, 6:00AM-12MID, for the LA Metro, Nielsen Audio reveals Radio listenership at 5,313,200 in January 2013. By January 2015, listenership has jumped to 5,355,400 with a steady 0.8% growth rate in the past two years.

And remember all those claims that younger people have stopped listening to Radio?

Well that’s not true either. Using the same parameters, Adults 18-34 amounted to 3,057,700 Radio listeners in January 2013. By January 2015, that audience grew to 3,106,000 or a solid 1.6% growth rate.

And the same holds true for the broader 12+ total audience which also grew by 1.8% over the past two years. It’s worth noting that we are talking about over 10.5 million different listeners to Radio every week!

That’s more audience than ANY other media or platform in Southern California, period.

Still not convinced? Understood. It’s hard to get all that misinformation out of our collective heads, but we must if we are to really understand Radio and its universal appeal to consumers. So, let’s look at the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report from late 2014. The average US adult consumes 66 hours of content each week across Radio, TV, online, and mobile. After traditional TV with 33.5 hours of watching, Radio remains the dominant listening platform with 13.1 hours per week, 6.5 hours are spent with an App/Web on smartphones, 3.3 hours watching Time-Shifted Television, 5.7 hours using the Internet on a computer, 1.6 hours on a game console, and 1.5 hours with Video on the Internet.

Aside from TV, Radio dominates the U.S. adult consumer’s time and most of their attention every week.

So while today’s consumer has all these varied audio and video choices, Southern Californians keep coming back to Radio. To be connected, informed, entertained, and yes, to hear LIVE human companionship. In the end, more choices are always good for the consumer.

And the consumer clearly chooses to keep on listening to the AM/FM platforms of content and to spend their valuable time with the resilient and ever changing medium called…Radio.