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TechSurvey 2022: Radio Personalities Drive Radio Listenership More Than Music

Younger generations are finding new music elsewhere

The origins of the Jacobs Media’s TechSurvey can be traced to early 2000’s when Fred Jacobs sensed a growing amount of change in the tech space impacting radio broadcasters. He was onto something big. And the tech surge and influence on media consumption has only grown since then.

Jacobs, president of Jacobs Media, says listening habits and how devices like the Smartphone and digital audio platforms affect those habits must be understood by radio broadcasters for them to remain competitive. 

This week’s release of TechSurvey 2022 shows how tech continues to influence listening habits of the survey’s respondents as well as how personalities continue to outpace music in appeal for core radio listeners. 

TechSurvey pie charts in the 2022 study show people moving away from radio for music discovery. “But radio personalities are really coming into their own and eclipsing music as the main reason for people to listen to radio,” Jacobs said. 

The latest TechSurvey shows 62% of respondents say DJs/hosts/shows are the reason they choose radio compared to 55% who point to the music their favorite station plays. And that separation is growing. 

The stats have flip-flopped since 2014 when Jacobs first started asking the question. The data from that very first year showed favorite songs/artists as the top preference at 70%, with personalities trailing at 55%. The lines on the graph intersect by early 2019.

“This is a trend. Those lines are moving away from each other. This is something that is happening globally. Personalities have become more important than the music,” Jacobs said. “Women tend to connect to personalities more so than men. And this personality preference is especially clear in certain formats, like CHR and Sports. Stations benefit from that closer connection to personalities.” 

As illustrated in the 18th annual TechSurvey, Jacobs says respondents who say AM/FM is the go-to choice for new music discovery is trending down.

It’s a generational thing, too, Jacobs says. Gen Z (22%) is less likely than Boomers (38%) to use radio for their music discovery pursuits.

“Of the 76% of respondents who say they are interested in new music/artists and use radio as their primary source is going backwards. It is clear that as each year goes by, radio is less relevant for new music and new artist discovery,” he says.

Even more dramatic is the noticeable slide in the number of people who say new music is the reason why they listen to radio when comparing data from TS 2014 to the latest survey. That percent drops from 39% to 23% in TS 2022.  


This the second in a series of stories examining the results from TechSurvey 2022. Click here to read part one.

Randy J. Stine has spent the past 40 years working in audio production and broadcast radio news. He joined Radio World in 1997 and covers new technology and regulatory issues. He has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.