Last week, Nielsen revealed American AM/FM radio retained 96% of its prior month’s reach in the March 2020 Portable People Meter Survey. Defying perceptions, 62% of all listening in the last week of March occurred out of home.
Now we turn our attention to what listeners want from AM/FM radio during these times of COVID-19. CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One surveyed 1,154 listeners March 31 through April 8, 2020 in a study that spanned the country in markets large and small. The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and Jacobs Media also released a listener study of over 20,000 AM/FM radio listeners last week.
Here are the key findings from these just-released studies:
60% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners who normally work outside the home are still commuting to work
Many were stunned last week when Nielsen revealed that out of home continues to be AM/FM radio’s dominant location of listening. The CUMULUS MEDIA study explains why. Of those who normally work outside the home, 47% are still commuting to work. Among heavy AM/FM radio listeners who usually work out of home, a whopping 60% continue to work away from home.
AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of the American worker. Those who are still working away from home are power AM/FM radio users. The more people listen, the more likely they are still working away from home.
One out of four smart speaker owners do not know how to listen to AM/FM radio stations on the devices
Meaningful numbers of consumers are not sure how to listen to AM/FM radio on a variety of devices. One out of five smartphone owners don’t know how to listen to AM/FM radio on their devices. 17% of those with a laptop/desktop and 26% of tablet owners don’t know how to listen to AM/FM radio stations on their devices.
Large proportions of listeners to Country, Oldies/Classic Hits, Adult Contemporary, and Rock formats do not know how to listen to AM/FM radio stations on their smart speakers. With more consumers at home, stations need to redouble their efforts to educate listeners on how to access AM/FM radio on all their devices.
Localism is the number one perception associated with AM/FM radio
27% associate AM/FM radio as the media that has the best information specific to their locale. AM/FM radio is a strong number two to television for information perceptions.
After TV and AM/FM radio, social media is associated with fast local information. Despite strong perceptions for speed and information, social media has very little trust among consumers.
The RAB and Jacobs Media study found that for Coronavirus information, consumers place their greatest trust in government medical organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health followed by their favorite AM/FM radio station. There is little trust in political parties, the White House, or social media.
Listeners want what they like – their favorite music and funny, entertaining AM/FM radio personalities
For decades, listener research has found that consumers want their preferred music genre and entertaining personalities. The CUMULUS MEDIA study found little change in what listeners want from AM/FM radio.
The Coronavirus has not altered the most basic listener needs. Listeners still want stations to play their favorite music and have great personalities.
By nearly a four to one margin, listeners say they prefer normal programming over Coronavirus updates
Among regular listeners to a variety of AM/FM radio formats, 72%-78% say they want normal programing.
Listeners to Urban format stations indicate the largest desire in programming focused on Coronavirus. News reports indicate that people of color are impacted to a much greater degree by the pandemic. African Americans express much greater concern over Coronavirus. The RAB and Jacobs Media study finds that 89% of African Americans say, “We are in a full blown crisis,” versus 77% of listeners overall.
“Stick to your format and stay in your lane,” advises Fred Jacobs from Jacobs Media. He notes, “People want their favorite stations to sound the way they do.”
- 60% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners who normally work outside the home are still commuting to work
- One out of four smart speaker owners do not know how to listen to AM/FM radio stations on the devices
- Localism is the number one perception associated with AM/FM radio
- Listeners want what they like – their favorite music and funny, entertaining AM/FM radio personalities
- By nearly a four to one margin, listeners say they prefer normal programming over Coronavirus updates
Brittany Faison is the Insights Manager at CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One.
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer at CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.