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Is News/Talk Really the Top Audio Format of 2013?


Nielsen just released a report trumpeting “News/Talk/Information” as the “Top Audio Format of 2013.”

But what does that mean…really?

First, recognize that the ranker is based on Persons 6+.

Among 25-54’s, however, News/Talk/Info ranks 4th, clearly indicating that the driving force for the format’s dominance is persons over the age of 55, which should come as no surprise to anyone tracking News/Talk ratings over the years (not that 4th is shabby).

Second, there is no indication that these numbers exclude Public Radio, so I will assume that the strength for News/Talk/Info also averages in the enviable powerhouses in Public Radio in many PPM markets.

Indeed, it would be interesting to see just how much lower News/Talk ranks without Public Radio and how much of that rank is due to listeners over 55.

None of this is to argue that News/Talk, as commercial broadcasters know it, is irrelevant or “dying.” Nor is it to diminish the power of the format among persons 25-54 and older.

But formats which skew in one demographic direction generally keep skewing progressively farther in that direction unless something novel enters the formula to broaden the skew or refresh the demographics.

Adult Standards, anyone?

News/Talk, as commercial broadcasters know it, is due for a coat of fresh paint.

And non-music radio (which is a much larger category than News/Talk) is due for some fresh new experiments.

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