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Public Radio Listeners’ Tech Use Grows

Latest Jacobs Media Public Radio Tech Survey results suggest that there is a slow but sure digital migration

Public radio listeners are increasingly buying mobile devices and nearly half listen to time-shifted programming.

Those are the broad highlights of the latest Jacobs Media Public Radio Tech Survey, conducted in conjunction with the Public Radio Program Director’s Association. The results suggest that while public radio is still rooted in traditional listening patterns, more listening (16%) is migrating towards digital.

More than six in 10 public radio listeners own a smartphone and half carry a tablet, according to the data, with iPads and other mobile devices, a 63% increase over the year before.

“Our stakeholder stations now have a playbook to help guide their strategic planning as the world of technology undergoes rapid change,” according to PRPD President Arthur Cohen.

The bulk of pubcaster listening remains in the car at 44% and now half of these listeners connect a phone or MP3 player into their cars. Listening via the “digital dash” is now 10% and HD Radio listening has grown to 9%. Pandora is credited with 17% listening.

While Boomers still represent the bulk of public radio listenership, the number of Gen X and Millennials is on the rise and so is their use of social media. Nine in 10 use social networks, eight in 10 own a smartphone and six in 10 stream on a weekly basis or more. At 21% usage, Twitter is growing, though well behind Facebook.

Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs calls public radio content “tailor-made” for digital consumption as the survey results show “mobile and mobility continue to have steep upward trajectories while on-demand programming is becoming more popular.

Nearly 31,000 listeners from a total of 56 public radio stations took part in the survey.

Jacobs will moderate a session at the upcoming Public Radio Programming Conference on Sept. 17 in Atlanta.