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Survey: Spoken Word Audio Provides Meaningful Conversations

Key audiences are motivated by connection, education, new perspectives and self-improvement.

In the fast-paced, overscheduled world we all live in, the idea of just sitting down and listening to a podcast or other spoken word content seems to be a thing of the past. Most respondents to the latest NPR/Edison Spoken Word Audio Report cite the ability to multitask as one of the main motivations for listening to spoken word audio, but there are many other motivators, particularly for the key demographics of young and multicultural listeners.

When posed with the statement “Spoken word audio is a productive use of your time,” an average of 58 percent of respondents said yes. Sixty-three percent of those 18–34 and 64 percent of listeners 35–54 also agreed. Among multicultural listeners, 63 percent were on board with this statement.

“The Spoken Word Audio Report” finds that listeners view listening to spoken word audio as an important part of their lives.


The reasons why those surveyed listen to spoken word audio are many. A distribution of the base of responses puts multitasking on top with 71 percent of respondents. Other reasons given include: encouragement/positivity with 57 percent; fresher than live radio, 51 percent; help with life’s problems, 46 percent; need a break from negativity, 56 percent; and religion/spirituality at 40 percent.

[Read more of our coverage of “The Spoken Word Audio Report”]

When that same data is indexed for the 18–34 and multicultural groups, all but one of those responses indexed above average. The 18–34 demographic ranked multitasking at 97 percent above average; encouragement/positivity at 111 percent; fresher than live radio got 120 percent; help with life’s problems at 124 percent; need a break from negativity got 111 percent; and religion/spirituality got 120 percent.

Respondents provided myriad reasons for why they listen to spoken word audio.

The indexed breakdown for multicultural listeners showed multitasking at 100 percent; encouragement/positivity with 112 percent; fresher than live radio with 124 percent; help with life’s problems at 120 percent; need a break from negativity with 113 percent; and religion/spirituality at 115 percent.

Forty-six percent of all respondents said they used spoken word audio to further their education; however multicultural and younger listeners were much more likely to cite the education value of spoken word audio. For the 18–34 demographic education indexed 117 percent above average, and for multicultural listeners it was 122 percent above average.

While the results of this survey strongly suggest that spoken word audio listening is done alone and often while multitasking, there is also evidence of a contrary trend, listening with other people. The average percent who listen with others is 51. Sixty-four percent of 18- to 34-year-olds share the sound, and 61 percent of multicultural listeners do the same.

Finally, here’s a defining statement, “Spoken word audio is becoming a more important part of your life.” The average of those who agreed is 45 percent. Those in the lead are aged 35 to 54 with 58 percent, while multicultural listeners are a close second with 55 percent.

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