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News Radio Reach Surges During September Hurricanes

Nielsen says weather dominated the news cycle

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Nielsen’s PPM September survey attached some numbers to a trend that most would suspect, a spike in listening to news/talk stations both in Texas and Florida, as well as the rest of the U.S. The survey was taken between August 17 and September 13.

Both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma arrived during the September survey. Harvey arrived in Texas on August 25 and 26, impacting four of Nielsen’s PPM markets in the state, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. Just two weeks later, Irma struck Florida, driving up audiences for news/talk radio in Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.

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In all instances, according to Nielsen, audience tune-in to local news radio surged during the week that each hurricane arrived. The survey included all news-formatted radio stations, all-news, news/talk and Spanish-language news/talk, for both commercial and noncommercial radio. Regardless of what was going on, power outages, evacuations, flooding or other disruptions from the storm, people kept on listening to news/talk radio. The numbers shown in the graphics compare listening during the week of the storm to what it was four weeks prior.

Spikes in news/talk listening are not unusual during the fall. In addition to bad weather, there is the lead-up to elections in November. Nielsen noted that this most recent fall spike was the highest that has been recorded since the 2012 lead-up to the U.S. presidential election.