Radio’s Place In The Car Is Still Safe For Now


Jacobs Media, with an assist from Veritone, presented its annual Techsurvey Thursday afternoon, which takes a look at trends in the mobile, social, and “connected car” spaces.
Over 40,000 listeners participated in an online survey, from 470 stations representing 14 formats. Here are a few highlights from the 2021 survey.

Radio listening is trending down among radio’s heaviest users (over 4 hours per day) now at 42%, compared to 49% in 2018. 50% listen to audio on a streaming device on a daily basis, with the sports format being the top format for radio.

Listening to radio in the automobile is still king, despite a drastic drop-off during the pandemic when people were locked down. As we return to normal, the numbers are back in familiar territory, according to the Jacobs Techsurvey. 58% of the respondents listen to AM/FM radio in the car with SiriusXM a distant second with 18% and personal music 3rd at 9%.

The top three reasons people listen to radio in the car: It’s easy to listen to (65%), familiar hosts (61%) and it’s free (60%). And, 49% of the respondents in the survey strongly agree that being local is radio’s primary advantage.

Over time, the appeal of music on the radio is becoming secondary to the appeal of personalities (see chart below). And tuning into the radio to discover new music is declining. Back in 2014, it was 39%. In 2021, that number dropped to 25%.
On the podcast front, 42% have still never listened to a podcast with only 14% of the respondents in the survey listening to a podcast daily. And while host read ads are the preference for podcast listeners, 34% of podcast listeners skip the ads almost all of the time.

The survey was done between January 5 and February 7, 2021.


  1. Try finding the AM radio band on some new car “audio” sets. It’s pretty much impossible to do so. As a Media Broker, that’s something I have to do often when visiting stations. Or, if you get to AM, look at the car antenna for AM listening. It presents such poor reception even on 50 KW AM stations that it doesn’t make sense to even try to listen, There are certain brand of cars that I will NOT rent in my business travels.


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