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The Most Active Listening Group Is… by Rudy Parachoniak





By Rudy Parachoniak

PSR Contributor


Saturday March 12, 2016


In radio, it’s hard to find that ‘sweet spot’. The age and gender at which you target most of your programming and advertising towards. After reading a number of articles and data on the subject, there appears to be a consensus on what that age may be.

While the reach of radio might be consistent, the simple fact of the matter is that overall time spent actually listening to radio is falling. That said, the majority of listeners that are tuning out happen to be within the youngest and oldest age ranges. Here’s a breakdown on what the industry is seeing based on Edison Research.

  • Podcast Listening showed sharp gains on both a monthly basis (17% to 21%) and weekly (10% to 13%). Those who consume podcasts on a weekly basis listened to an average of five podcasts per week.
  • In-home Ownership of Over-The-Air Radio receivers has dropped, with 79% of respondents saying they have a radio at home. That number was 96% in 2008. Among 18-34-year-olds, that number is down from 94% to 68% over the same time period.
  • Broadcast Radio is tied for the lead among all sources used for keeping up-to-date with new music. “AM/FM Radio” is used for that purpose by 68% of respondents, the same number that rely on “friends and family.” You Tube is next with 66%. Among 12-to-24s, however, broadcast radio falls to third (58%), behind You Tube (86%) and friends/family (74%). Smartphone Ownership has increased from 71% to 76% of all respondents. Among 12-24-year-olds, smartphone ownership rose to 93%, while even respondents age 55 and older cracked the “more than half” barrier, up 45 to 51%
  • Facebook remains the most-used social media brand among all-ages with 64%. But among 12-24s, it has been overtaken by Snapchat (72% to 68%) with Instagram close behind (66%).

While reviewing the data, it appears that the age at which most people begin to rely on radio for content and music is roughly 35. This is the time when both men and women are more interested in the music that they grew up with along with content that relates to their day to day. They are usually starting families, married and looking at making significant investments (home, auto, insurance, etc).

The music that 35-44yr old listeners prefer happens to be from 1996. This is the year that they have become most fond of and can best relate to. If you are attempting to target a 35-44yr old demographic, your focus needs to be built around the 90’s. At 45, the preference shifts towards the 80’s and into the 60’s by 55.This is not to say that there aren’t crossover artists between the old and the young. Believe it or not, teenagers appreciate some of the same artists as of those in their 60’s.Keep in mind, the data that determined these similarities isn’t perfect. For example, many of the 60-somethings could be listening to these artists because of their children, grand kids, co-workers, etc. This isn’t necessarily based on personal preference but rather exposure to those artists.

All in all – the target is changing. Even though ratings results tend to focus on the 12+ demo, where it really counts appears to be the 35-44 yr old demo. No matter what your format, you need to evolve and adapt to also attract the next generation. For example, if you’re a classic rock station that focuses on the 45yr old demo…you must also consider those that will be entering that demographic in the years to come. By sprinkling in songs from the 90’s, for example, you will begin to actively recruit those listeners to your station now.

Radio is not so much an exact science but rather an educated guessing game. Through research, we can better determine what we need to play and which content we should include to better satisfy those that we are targeting.

Rudy Parachoniak| Operations Manager – 96.3 BIG FM / 104.3 FRESH RADIO –

Email Rudy: ru********@co******.com  





  1. Are columns (blogs like post) by PDs explaining how they know research, how to coach trends…etc..the new norm these days? Seems like everyone is an expert or consultant of the business. It bores me to tears. It’s like a big circle jerk as to who can spew the most bull $hit.

  2. Honestly James – I post content that I feel is interesting or could potentially be helpful. I am by no means an expert or a wanna be consultant. I’m just a guy that had to learn and struggle on my own – which is why I try to help others in the same boat. If there is an opportunity to learn something – I’m all for it. Obviously you already know all of this – since it’s the same old stuff for you. For me, this was new info that I wanted to share with those that care.


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