Who Says Radio Stations are Playing What They Want When They Tune In?

June 4, 2018

Agree or disagree: The radio stations you listen to are usually playing what you want when you tune in. It’s a tall order. Think about it. It means getting reasonably close to the expectations of millions of people every day. Yet radio does it remarkably well for a huge percentage of the population.

When we posed this to respondents in NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study Eleven back in January, more than two thirds of our sample agreed with the idea. Most connected were 25-44’s where nearly three quarters felt satisfied with their tune-in experiences. Lower than expected were 35-54’s who’ve had a strong relationship with radio across their lives, yet gave up a few percentage points compared to 18-34’s and 25-44’s.

At the other end of the age spectrum in our sample, the results among 14-24’s are distressing, with less than 60% expecting satisfaction when they tune in. Keep in mind that this question was posed only to those who listen to terrestrial radio at least five minutes a day.

The daily usage number here is key. Radio programming can only impact those who spend at least minimal time with our medium. We know the picture is rosier among those who are likely to end up within the measured metered and diary samples from Nielsen (and rosier still when Nielsen quotes weekly usage numbers instead of daily). And we know that meters measure time spent exposed – not time spent listening. But the self-reported usage stats among 14-24’s scream of an urgent need.

With usage among 14-24’s fully 20 points lower than among 18-34’s, radio needs plans now for what it can do to serve these young consumers. It needs plans that are more powerful than just dropping the callout demo a couple of years. It needs new programming that addresses the interests and needs of these young people. It needs to distribute this new programming via streaming, on YouTube and as podcasts.

We need more young people to pay attention to our content, even if they’re not yet interested in our brands or our medium. We need to build bridges to bring some of these young people to radio and we need other platforms – if that turns out to be the best way to communicate with these future mainstream adults. Radio stations have studios, creative people and big transmitters. Those transmitters may not connect us to as many young people as we’d like right now, but they connect to plenty (and we can use word of mouth and digital and social media to connect to even more). It starts with great programming – just as it always has.


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