What’s REALLY Happening To Radio Listening? Read This…

In order to rally and fight a problem, we must begin by recognizing its existence.

The realities of changing consumer usage have certainly provoked action for my clients in what used to be called “newspapers,” I can tell you. But radio has been slower to action not only because the trends have been less dire, but also because so few are willing to stand up and tell the Emperor that he has no clothes.

Indeed, some refute the trends altogether. So it is when we hear that radio usage is up and time spent listening is stable.

Um, no.

Don’t take my word for it. Take it from this new data just published by the RRC and provided by Arbitron:


This chart depicts the percentage of the total population using measured media (PPM) across the 30 markets measured by PPM since 2010 – the 30 markets important enough to be measured by PPM.

You’re looking at a steady decline in Persons Using Measured Media since 2010. This is listening to all radio, not just public radio.

This is an update to a picture I presented at hivio this past summer. In that presentation, I pointed out that the fraction of the total population listening at any given time to radio had declined by 9% from 2010 to 2012.

Well, here’s news: The decline is now 13% from 2010 to 2013.

13.3%, to be exact.

Let me repeat for emphasis: Total listening to radio in the 30 PPM markets has declined by more than 13% since 2010.

If you believe in the veracity of PPM – especially when aggregated across many markets and numerous time periods – the conclusion is unavoidable: Overall usage to radio is declining.

This should surprise no one. In my hivio presentation I compared these declines across media and explained them as utterly predictable. Indeed, such a decline is neither good nor bad, it simply is. The real issue is: What do you do now?

For my answer, you should watch this presentation:

It begins, first and foremost, by awakening to reality and facing up to it.

(If you want to be in the loop on hivio events and videos, sign up here)

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  • Rico

    This is no surprise at all. I am curious as to why the study was only done with non-commercial formats.

  • Rico, this is NOT only non-com, as I wrote in the post. It’s ALL radio.
    Mark Ramsey

  • Rico

    Yes, I read that. But then I read the report, and it only mentions non-commercial. I’ll re-read both because I’m missing something.

    I am not doubting that it is all radio; I believe that to be true. I was just wondering why that study only referred to non-comm; that’s all.

  • RRC aggregates data for public radio. The slide in question is all radio. Most of the rest of the PDF refers to public radio specifically.

  • adam garey

    radio brands create unique and compelling content-? Well having been in music based radio for several years now(not news /talk)The creators at local stations are Copywriters of Commercials and Morning Shows. Agencies come in for countdowns and Region-National spots. So a question could be WHY are we making Music stars? Are we so focused or proud that we can succeed in that we are cutting our own throat?And why is it that when the call comes for “The Next Radio Star” there is no effort in the Radio machine to really make that happen when we can ? Is the Talent(s) encouraged with words and assistance to Produce Unique &Compelling Content really? Is the Term TEAM a concept we never take seriously for Operations and Sales for such things yet when it comes to a Taylor Swift project the Machine suddenly moves in unison ? So if it walks and talks like a platform and calls itself a Brand it really has an Identity problem alright.

  • Well put, Adam

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  • craigshipp

    Sorry the problem can’t be solved. There is too much competition. Here comes everybody.

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