Back on the Road and Tuned into Radio


Contributor: Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer, CUMULUS MEDIA/Cumulus Radio Station Group/Westwood One

People across the country are ready to go and are already on the road. According to the Dallas Federal Reserve, 69% of U.S. workers commuted to work daily or somedays in September – up from a low of 55% in May.

As the number of people working remotely declines, American’s are resuming their commute to work or to school and radio is joining them on their drive.

According to the latest custom Nielsen study, Americans have decreased their usage of public transportation – whether they are cautious or ready to go.

In one of the first studies of the location of American schoolchildren, Nielsen finds there is a mix in attendance methods. 35% of parents say their children are only doing virtual schooling, 26% are doing a mix of in-person and virtual learning, and 21% are just doing in-person learning. The remaining children are being home-schooled or using some other method.

50% say their children are driven to school (3% carpool, 47% parent/family member). 44% of American schoolchildren are taking the bus. Nielsen reports that AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of the drive to school. 62% indicate that AM/FM radio is always on and 35% say AM/FM radio is sometimes on.

The growth of workplace commuting combined with the return of children to school has caused time spent in the car to surge. This is good news for both the outdoor advertising and U.S. AM/FM radio industries. From May to October, Nielsen finds daily time spent in the car has grown +81% from 36 minutes in May to 65 minutes in October. Among heavy AM/FM radio listeners, daily time spent in the car has doubled from an hour and six minutes a day to two hours and 11 minutes.

The commuting American is back on the road and radio serves as their companion.  AM/FM radio’s audience recovery and time spent in the car is powered by commuting increases and a return to school.


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