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Here Are the Markets With the Largest Proportion of AM Radio Listeners

A new analysis of Nielsen data ranks 141 U.S. markets

As the debate surrounding AM radio’s relevance in and out of the car continues, new findings depict the senior band’s listenership in various U.S. markets.

Following Ford’s announcement that it will keep AM radio as a feature in its newer model cars, lawmakers continue to push for legislation that would protect AM in all vehicles, and radio broadcasters are keeping the pressure on other automakers to follow Ford’s lead. AM radio’s presence in cars will be the subject of an “educational” hearing on Capitol Hill next Tuesday, June 6.

Ahead of that meeting, Nielsen shared a new analysis conducted by Westwood One’s Audio Active Group based on its Fall 2022 survey. Pierre Bouvard, the chief insights officer for Cumulus Media and Westwood One, broke down Nielsen’s findings in a blog post this Thursday.

The study highlights the 141 U.S. markets where AM radio is listened to monthly by at least 20 percent of the radio audience. The graph shared below, courtesy of Westwood One, depicts the percentage of the metro radio audience that listens to AM radio in a month (again, this is out of the markets where AM radio represents at least 20 percent of radio listening). Find the complete graph here.

It’s notable that the percentage of AM radio listening in highly-ranked markets like Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco, is probably much higher than people would expect. San Francisco, not shown in the partial graph below, is ranked #4, with 39 percent of its radio audience listening to AM.

In his blog post, Bouvard shares a few key takeaways from this new analysis. He notes that markets with the largest proportion of AM listening tend to be from the upper Midwest; and that markets with hilly terrain (San Jose/San Francisco/Sacramento), which are challenging for FM signals, also tend to have large proportions of AM listening.

The new Nielsen analysis comes one month after research from Nielsen’s Fall 2022 survey showed that AM radio reaches 82.3 million Americans monthly, representing one out of three U.S. AM/FM radio listeners.

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