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Radio, Reaching the “Working Generation”

Pierre Bouvard used a catchy term last week: “Radio is the soundtrack of the American worker.”

The chief marketing officer for Cumulus Media and Westwood One provided a chart to show that radio listenership is aging more slowly than that of big primetime network TV. It’s his job, of course, to sell the benefits of radio, but his choice to emphasize a theme of “radio as the medium of the working demographic” is intriguing.

“Since 1990, the median age of primetime ABC/CBS/NBC viewers has grown from 41 to 57, according to Media Dynamics Inc.,” he wrote.

“The primetime audience of ABC/CBS/NBC has aged by 16 years. At the same time, the median age of the total U.S. population has only increased by five years (33 in 1990 to 38 in 2014). At 57, the average age of ABC/CBS/NBC primetime audience now falls outside the 25–54 demographic.” He quotes Media Dynamics saying that the major TV networks are becoming less “mass audience” programmers than catering to older traditionalists.

Bouvard wrote: “Unlike ABC/CBS/NBC, radio has seen much smaller changes in its median age. According to Nielsen, the median age of radio listeners in 2005 was 43 and is currently 46, a difference of only three years. Radio is the ‘soundtrack of the American worker.’ Nielsen research shows how heavy radio listeners are more employed and younger than heavy TV users.”

You can read his entire post here, including discussion of TV viewing levels and TV vs. radio ratings. I thought this particular angle was revealing.