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.

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