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Cell Phones, iPods Are Important to Public Radio Listeners …

... But HD Radio impact is 'miniscule' so far, survey finds

“Satellite radio has unique challenges, and does not appear to be much of a threat to terrestrial broadcasters at this time. By the same token, the HD Radio initiative’s impact is miniscule, and fraught with several practical barriers that may hamper future growth.”

These are two key findings of the Public Radio Tech Survey 2008, conducted by Jacobs Media and sponsored by the Public Radio Program Directors, Integrated Media Association and NPR.

Some 30,000 public radio listeners from a total of some 80 stations were queried about a range of technology. The point is to help public stations spend their dollars wisely, “investing in technology that is congruent with audience usage, while considering future trends,” states Jacobs in the findings.

Satellite radio plays a role in the overall media usage spectrum but is far from a mass appeal outlet. Only about one in 10 (~12%) currently subscribes to Sirius XM, according to the survey.

Of the 12% of satellite radio subscribers, 49% said they’d likely to continue their satellite radio subscription while 3% said they’re absolutely going to drop it. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed were aware of HD Radio.

Some 3% of respondents age 25–54 said they own an HD Radio and 4% of those 55+ did, according to the survey, which describes HD Radio as still in the “embryonic” stage.

Of the 3% who own an HD Radio, a total of 55% said they were satisfied with it vs. 7% who were not satisfied. When asked of the likelihood of buying an HD Radio for between $100 to $200, 11% said they were very likely to buy, 32% said they were somewhat likely to buy, 32% said they were not at all likely to buy and 23% weren’t sure.

Of those features desirable in a car, 85% chose AM/FM radio, 32% chose an iPod with an MP3 connector, 20% chose a GPS navigation system, 11% said satellite radio, 9 % said a DVD player, 7% chose HD Radio. That’s slightly ahead of the 6% who chose wireless Internet and 3% who chose Sync, an in-car system from Ford and Microsoft.

Cell phones, meanwhile, are becoming ubiquitous and are gateways to texting and other multi-media activities. The iPod is “a game changer” and is owned by more than half of public radio listeners.

Streaming video, meanwhile, has rapidly become a major source of entertainment and information, according to the findings, which are posted on the PRPD home page.

This reinforces the case for getting radio on cell phones, though keep in mind this research covers a slice of the population, mostly white, highly educated with disposable income. The survey did ask respondents about their fears about the economic downturn and concluded that the poor economy is affecting purchase decisions.

Read it and tell me what you think about the findings. Write me at [email protected].