Audacy’s Idil Cakim: Radio Vital To Sway Gen Z, Multicultural Votes


As primary season ends, both local and national elections will take center stage until November. Audacy SVP of Research and Insights Idil Cakim recently discussed over-the-air radio’s crucial importance in providing reach to voters that TV and digital can’t in an article titled “Radio Gets The Votes.”

Radio Ink discussed the nuances of those findings along with AM/FM’s connection to multicultural votes and media trust in a conversation with Idil.

Radio Ink: Can you elaborate on the concept of “incremental reach” that radio provides and how this can significantly impact a campaign’s success?

Idil Cakim: I think it’s important to remember that dollars in the political realm for media have traditionally flown to television, primarily. Then as time moved on to other media they added digital to the mix. Today it’s still TV and digital dominant.

However with the decline of TV – and pegging that completely on audience loss and less time spent viewing – we see TV not covering the gap. We need another mass medium that can not only reach a sufficient number of people but also mobilize them, move communities, and get the vote out.

For example, in 2022 an analysis showed a one-month campaign of radio, TV, and digital reached 101 million people. The same campaign with only TV and digital, would reach 88.8 million people. You need to include more radio to cover all your bases and to reach the larger group of voters that are out there.

Radio Ink: The Nielsen study you referenced in your research says reallocating 20% of ad dollars to radio can cover those bases. How can political campaigns effectively determine an optimal amount to reallocate without sacrificing efficacy?

Idil Cakim: The point that we want to make is that you’re optimizing; we’re not saying increase your budget. We’re saying find the inefficiencies in your budget, such as in linear TV, such as on Cable TV. See what happens when you shift those to radio. That’s what the analysis is about. It’s about shifting the inefficient dollars to a hardworking medium like radio and looking at the added impact, which is something that’s allowing them to reach their goals.

Radio Ink: You mentioned TV’s audience loss – do we know who the “unreachables” are through television? How does radio best target those demographics?

Idil Cakim: The amazing thing about radio is that it remains the one mass medium that effectively reaches everyone today. More than 90% of the US adult population listens to the radio on a regular basis. So, when we’re looking at voter basis, let’s think of Gen Z. They are so elusive to catch, right? They’re not on TV.

Only 61% of Gen Z voters are today reachable by linear TV. And I would – even though the numbers may look solid on CTV – question as to why they’re turning to CTV. What kind of information are they seeking or are they looking for entertainment options? It’s really important to also think of the quality of the medium.

But the fact of the matter is if political campaigns are largely investing in linear TV, they’re not getting the Gen Z voter. They are also getting a lower share of parents: voters with kids. Only 77% of voters with kids can be reached today with linear TV, whereas the reach for parents on AM/FM radio is 94%. That’s practically universal.

The reach for Gen Z voters for AM/FM radio is nine in ten. That’s also quite remarkable. And I can go on and on about how radio is more effective among suburban voters or rural voters, or practically any group that can be critical in moving the vote and changing the results. Radio is a medium that people turn to for direction and information they then take action on.

Radio Ink: In Radio Gets the Votes, you discuss Senator Raphael Warnock’s campaign in Georgia and how radio played a crucial role in that. What specific elements of the strategy contributed most significantly to reaching an additional 659,000 voters?

Idil Cakim: So when we look at the spend there, of the total spend, 24% went to AM/FM radio. For local, the ratios are a little different. 72% went to broadcast and Cable TV. The fact that this campaign used radio effectively to increase its reach, to supplement TV, and to build synergistically with radio, turned into a win.

Local AM/FM radio reached those voters that could not be tapped into by TV or CTV. You really need radio and especially in these local elections, you need the local AMFM radio to reach the voter base that you need to move the needle.

Radio Ink: We’ve seen multiple studies in the last six months about radio’s reach and impact with Black and Hispanic audiences. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are specifically using radio right now to reach the multicultural vote in this election. How do radio and politicians best use this connection with diverse audiences?

Idil Cakim: I think it goes back to the local voice, with the authenticity and the objective reporting that radio brings to these voters. When we look at Hispanic voter trends and African American voter trends, first of all, as radio listeners, they’re incredibly loyal.

Looking at AM/FM radio reach, it’s 95% for Hispanic, 78% for linear TV. So first of all, they’re on radio, not on TV. And the local perspective, what goes on in my city, what happens to my city, the issues for my community, those things are addressed by influencers on AM/FM radio.

This is the one medium that not only brings them information, but a discussion forum and makes them feel like they’re part of the community. That’s how radio can effectively mobilize these audiences that may not feel well-served through other channels.

Radio Ink: Radio was just named the most trusted mass-reach medium for news. Newsrooms need ad dollars right now. It’s a sector facing significant layoffs. How do radio sellers best leverage election season and make these pitches, but in a way that maintains that trust?

Idil Cakim: I think that the trust is quintessential and it’s established between the content creators and the listeners. That’s what makes the audience come back. That’s what makes the audience choose to turn on the dial and listen to the radio as opposed to choosing another medium.

Other studies we’ve done have shown that the host is the leading reason why a radio listener will choose broadcast radio. When the seller can communicate that to the advertiser and bring them into that kind of trusted conversation environment, it’s a win for both sides.


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