That’s the question we put to the best program directors in the country. There’s no denying that Pandora and Spotify have listeners. Is that at the expense of radio — or is it in addition to radio? Is this something you should be worried about, or is it something to ignore. Over the next several days you’ll get a taste of what radio’s top programmers believe about these digital competitors. Here’s our first sample.
KIOI & KYLD San Francisco PD (iHeartMedia) Mark Adams says the short answer is that a tremendous number of people are still listening to the radio. “Ninety-three percent of the U.S. adult population are spending time with radio each week and those numbers are still growing. With the rapid adoption of smart-speaker technology, which are often being utilized as radios, those numbers are likely to even grow. Consumers rely upon radio for great personalities that provide companionship and locality, for music discovery from smartly curated music programming, and for a number of other brand attributes (including lifestyle and music events that tie listeners and artists closer together) that are unmatched by any competitive streaming service.”
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WCBS-FM/WNEW-FM New York PD Jim Ryan (Entercom) tells Radio Ink the entire world of entertainment has changed. “Fifteen years ago you could convene a focus group and almost everyone in the room had the same favorite TV show. Today you can do the same thing and everyone could not only have a different favorite show, but not even have heard of the favorite shows of the others in the room. From Amazon Prime to Hulu to Netflix…must-see TV is not necessarily on NBC anymore. Same for audio.
“Someone could be a P1 of the local CHR station because they love new music. But that CHR station is only going to play the songs that have high hit potential. That may drive that listener to a new music Friday playlist on Spotify. Still, today word of mouth advertising is the most compelling in getting people to sample new products. Our cumes are as high as ever, but we are now sharing that cume with specialized offerings from all directions. If we keep making our products as good as they possibly can be, we can get more occasions and stay an important part of their media mix.”
Dick Broadcasting Company Vice President of Programming for Greensboro, NC, Jason Goodman wants to know who’s saying people are not listening to radio. “The latest research I stumbled across says radio has a reach of over 93% of the population weekly. That is a huge number! I would also argue that we are not getting the proper credit for our online listening as well. Our Rock station in Greensboro averages over 95,000 unique listeners a month with hundreds of thousand listening hours. We can see these numbers through our back end on our media players. However, many rating services will show a smaller number because of detection. So on top of reaching more than 93% of people a week, it’s probably even more than that, and for a lot more time spent listening than is being reported. So with this enormous reach of radio, our industry still overall tends to give spots away for cheap, or streaming spots away for free, and tons a free added-value for our awesome product. We need to change that thinking and realize we are the best medium to advertise on that drives goods and services for our clients. We should be creating an atmosphere that advertisers are begging to get on our medium as it has the most powerful reach.”
iHeartMedia’s EVP of Programming (East) and WWPR New York City PD Thea Mitchem says listeners are listening to radio. It’s not an either/or.
If you have an opinion on this topic, feel free to leave it below in our comments section.