Is Radio Time Spent Listening Really Up among Younger Listeners?

From Radio Ink:

Paragon Media Strategies has taken a second look at young people, radio, and new media, and it’s got some good news: Radio TSL is up among 14-24s, with 54 percent saying they’re listening to radio at least a little more than in the past. That’s a change from the first “Youth Radio and New Media” survey, in 2007, when most respondents said they were listening to radio less. In this year’s study, 37 percent of the 409 respondents ages 14-24 said they listen to radio 1-3 hours a week, up from 28 percent in the 2007 study, while the number who listen less than an hour fell to 19 percent from 23 percent. In 2007, 8 percent said they “never” listen to radio, and that figure is now at 2 percent. Listening to four to six hours weekly was steady at 21 percent, while the number of respondents who listen seven to 10 hours a week bumped up to 12 percent from 8 percent.

Listen, I want good news for radio as much as anybody else.

But why are we making a conclusive statement of this type based on 400 expressed attitudes when Arbitron collects tens of thousands of actual listener behaviors every quarter?

Answers of this type are notoriously unreliable in research – not so much because of the smallish sample but because the question asks for opinions of listening rather than an actual record of listening, which is what the diary and the PPM do.

Opinions are fine for attitudes and perceptions, but they leave much to be desired when we’re talking about actual behavior.

And the fact that the trend was evidently in the other direction twelve months ago is proof of just how rickety these opinions are.

Good news is always welcome. But good news must be accurate, too. Maybe this is, but maybe it isn’t.

If you want to know whether time spent listening is up among American youth in the past twelve months, just ask Arbitron.

Any comments, Arbitron?

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