5 Facts and Radio

Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

Over 247 million.  That’s a great number.  It’s the number of people that listen to radio every week.  It is the top reach medium – touching more people every week than any other medium or device.  This is something that we in the radio industry know.

Being recognized outside of your peer group or industry is even better.  Why?  Simply because it is confirmation from an objective source.  That is exactly what happened to radio.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about issues, attitudes and trends across a wide array of topics and industries.  Recently, Pew Research released 5 facts about the state of the news media in 2017. Within these facts, they revealed audience trends across the news media sector.  The only medium noted as not-experiencing declines, or better positioned as having a consistent audience reach was radio – “around 90% for at least the past nine years.”  Each other medium noted within the release – newspapers, cable TV, network TV, local TV and digital-native news – had declines ranging from 5% to as high as 15%.

Pew Research Center’s 5 facts, mean a lot to radio, so in keeping in Pew Research Center’s 5 facts format, here are top 5 facts (along with supporting data) about radio:

  1. Radio’s listening audience is growing.
    • June 2014: radio reached 244 million people weekly1
    • June 2018: radio reaches over 247 million weekly 1
  2. Radio reaches consumers on the go – wherever or whenever they want it – live or via streams, apps, podcasts and across devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers, smart TVs or smart speakers.
    • With online radio listening growing to 180 million monthly2
    • Podcast listening growth to 124 million people2
    • 26% of smart speaker owners use it to listen to a music formatted AM/FM radio station3
    • 16% of smart speaker owners use it to listen to a news/talk formatted AM/FM radio station3
  3. Radio has an emotional connection unlike any other medium.
    • 87% say that broadcast radio personalities make them laugh4
    • 64% would follow their radio personality if they went to another radio station4
    • 61% stated that the personalities on radio stations make them think4
    • 59% believe their daily routine would be different4
    • 51% see radio stations personalities or DJs like a friend/family4
    • 46% trust radio station personalities – they are opinion leaders4
  4. Radio is local.
    • 84% of listeners believe that radio’s primary advantage is its local feel. 3
  5. Radio delivers results.
    • Radio delivers a $10 to $1 ROI5
    • Radio delivers a 29% lift in incremental Google search6
    • Radio delivers campaign awareness lift when combined with other media7


Sources: 1 Nielsen, RADAR 124 and 137, June 2014 and 2018, M-Su 24-hr. weekly cume P12+; 2 The Infinite Dial 2018, Edison Research/Triton Digital;  3 Jacobs Media, Techsurvey 2018; 4 Vision Critical/MARU, November 2017; 5 Nielsen Catalina 2014-2016; 6 RAB: Radio Drives Search, 2017, Sequent Partners, Media Monitors, Inf4mation Insights; 7 New Research/IAB, 2016.


4 thoughts on “5 Facts and Radio”

  1. The most salient point?: “Radio delivers a $10 to $1 ROI”.

    Colleagues, the only way to blast radio’s revenue upward, and beyond its inflation-adjusted, flat-lined levels, is this:

    Show them the money. There’s numerous systems, strategies, tactics and tools to track sales attribution and specific ROI from our radio campaigns for each advertiser, but most of our advertisers keep saying that our industry isn’t doing so.

    Doing so returns more sales/profit/commission per hour of prospecting/preparing/presenting/closing and servicing than not, so it’s in our individual and collective best interest to get started.

    As most people are afraid of change, let me freely pay it forward. I’d be happy to share any number of ways as to how it’s done.

    For those few of you already quantifying sales results for your clients, I’d love to engage in an exchange of ideas and approaches.

  2. It’s interesting how radio tends to have a more emotional connection with its listeners than other mediums, which can make it more trustworthy and influential. I’ve been wanting to find a way to take advantage of my commute more now that I have to drive a bit further. Maybe finding a radio show that’s relevant to me could help fill the time each morning.

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