We just finished a round of quarterly radio earnings calls where most CEO’s touted the power of radio and how it has held its ground when compared to how traditional TV viewership and newspaper readership are being shattered. But is that really the truth?
Fred Jacobs revealed the Jacobs media 2022 Jacobs Media Tech Survey Tuesday afternoon. The presentation called Radio: A Return to Normal did not include great news for the radio industry. Over 30,000 radio listeners from 474 radio stations participated. Here’s what they said about radio…
Right out of the gate the survey shows that radio listening is trending down and its the lowest among the younger generations.
Also trending down for radio is music discovery, something the radio industry has been touting as one of its biggest strengths for decades.
In a connected vehicle, bluetooth is now the most important option in the dash.
Which could be one of the reasons in-car listening is eroding.
We reached out to Fred Jacobs for his take on the results and what radio needs to do to reverse its declining trends. He said TechSurvey 2022 is an honest report that clearly maps out radio’s challenges, but also, opportunities. “On the one hand, the growing dependence on digital streaming is a chance to keep up with the technology and win over listeners. But the industry needs to do a better job of leaning into its strengths – personality, local, and the good side of habit-forming listening.”
He adds that the decline in radio listening is “driven by new technology that offers commercial-free music for a monthly fee, on-demand programming, and radio offering a less than optimal experience. My biggest long-term concern is erosion in cars, still radio’s #1 listening location. COVID lockdowns and WFH hurt, and because connected cars offer a conduit to satellite radio and any content on a smartphone, the challenge gets tougher with each passing year.
Fred’s top takeaway from the survey was COVID giveth & COVID taketh away. “Great stations made lasting connections with audiences during the pandemic. But we are still a good distance away from “normal.” Traffic and commuting levels are still lower than they were in 2019, and that takes its toll on radio listening.”
So how radio need to do to reverse the trend of listeners jumping ship to other options like SiriusXM or their bluetooth device? “My point with the new question series – “Radio vs. Everybody” – is to raise industry awareness that we’re not just competing with other radio stations, groups, and companies. Radio broadcasters need to identify their defining differences, and invest in them. With new competition, the bar is raised. Broadcasters cannot offer substandard experiences, and expect to come out on top. We’ve got to put audiences first, research their needs, and offer the emotional benefits only radio can provide.