Why Do Listeners Listen?

Along with favorite hosts and music, Jacobs Media survey finds that some AM/FM listening is pure habit
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Source: Jacobs Media

A report released by the media research and consulting firm Jacobs Media Strategies found that radio again tops the pile as most-listened-to platform — but that TV/video and the smartphone are not far behind.

The results were gleaned from more than 51,000 respondents who were asked about their listening habits. Jacobs organized its findings into two different pyramids in the 2017 Techsurvey 13 — a Media Pyramid and Brand Platform Pyramid.

Radio sits atop that Media Pyramid. Ninety-one percent of the 51,760 respondents in the survey said that they listened to radio one hour or more per day, a figure that is similar to listener levels found in the 2016 Techsurvey 12.

Following radio, consumption of media was neck and neck between TV/video and the smartphone (both at 87%). Media consumption via social media also came in high (at 86%).

But after that, consumption levels changed considerably. Consumption via tablet came in at 68%, while streaming video came in at 66% and phone connectivity in the car came in at 64%.

Consumption via radio and music apps were at 63%, followed by streaming audio (58%), smart TV (54%), MP3 players (47%) and video games (44%). Satellite radio was at the near-bottom of the pyramid with 23%, followed by the likes of podcasts, HD Radio and smartwatches.

With radio at the top of the media consumption pyramid, the report’s next findings are perhaps not a surprise. When asked for the main reason that they listen to radio, listeners cited the draw of favorite music as well as the connection to personalities.

“Hearing favorite songs” was listed 66% of the time, followed by the fact that the format is free (57%). The power of local DJs, hosts and shows was important (at 56%) as was the simple power of habits: Fifty-two percent said the main reason they listen to AM/FM radio is because it is a habit.

There are powerful emotional benefits, too, to tuning into radio, the survey found. Radio keeps listeners company (48% cited this as the main reason they listen). It also gets listeners into a better mood (42%) and helps them escape life’s pressures (35%).

Even radio’s reliability as an effective communicator made the list. Respondents said the main reason they listened to radio was for emergency information (33%), followed by weather and traffic at (27 and 24%).

As it has in the past, a key advantage of radio remains its focus on local issues. When asked if one of radio’s primary advantages was its local feel, 79% agreed/strongly agreed.

According to the survey, a growing number of those surveyed listened radio this year. Seventeen percent say they listened to more AM/FM radio over the past year. Only one in 10 listened less, the survey said, which was mirrored numbers reported in the 2016 survey.

When asked why they’ve been listening to less radio, survey respondents said the reasons were too many commercials and repetitive music (both at 40%). Other factors included lifestyle changes (37%), less time in their car (33%) and the impact of music streaming services (30%).

What also made the list? Today’s news environment. Fourteen percent said that “news is depressing” when giving the main reason that they listened to less AM/FM radio over the past year.

In Part III of this multipart series, Radio World will look at the results gleaned from the survey’s Brand Platform Pyramid.

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