Edison: Rural Rules Radio, While Podcasts Lean Urban


Edison Research’s most recent Share of Ear study reveals significant variations in audio consumption patterns across different US regions, highlighting how geographical location influences listeners’ preferences for AM/FM radio and podcasts.

The study, based on US Census definitions of urban, suburban, and rural areas, uncovers that rural residents allocate a larger share of their daily audio listening time to AM/FM radio and radio streams compared to their urban and suburban counterparts. Specifically, rural listeners dedicate 43% of their audio time to these mediums, while urban listeners spend 34%.

Conversely, urban dwellers exhibit a stronger inclination towards podcasts, spending 13% of their daily audio time on this format – more than double the percentage seen among rural listeners, who allocate just 6% of their time to podcasts. Suburban listeners’ habits fall in between these two extremes.

Edison SoE Urban

Despite these differences in media consumption, Share of Ear’s comprehensive analysis of audio usage, which goes beyond just radio and podcasting, suggests a uniform ‘time budget’ for radio and podcast listening across all locations, with total percentages ranging narrowly between 47% and 49%. This consistency implies that while the division of time between radio and podcasts varies by region, the overall allocation of time to these audio sources remains similar across the board.


  1. Not surprising. Good cheap internet is far from ubiquitous. Rural areas are much more likely to get a good OTA signal than reliable online audio. As rural newspapers fold and regional media shrinks, good radio stations become the source of local news and advertising as well as entertainment.


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