Survey says radio listening is on the decline

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We just completed a series of quarterly radio earnings calls where most CEOs touted the power of radio and how it held up against how traditional TV audience and readership newspapers are being broken. But is it really the truth?

Fred Jacobs revealed the Jacobs Media 2022 Jacobs Media Tech Survey on Tuesday afternoon. The presentation titled Radio: a return to normal did not include good news for the radio industry. More than 30,000 listeners from 474 radio stations took part. Here’s what they said about the radio…

Right off the bat, the survey shows that radio listening is on the decline and lowest among younger generations.
Music discovery is also on the decline for radio, something the radio industry has touted as one of its greatest strengths for decades.

In a connected vehicle, Bluetooth is now the most important option on the dashboard.

Which could be one reason why in-car listening is eroding.
We reached out to Fred Jacobs for his take on the results and what the radio needs to do to reverse its downward trends. He said TechSurvey 2022 is an honest report that clearly outlines radio’s challenges, but also opportunities. “On the one hand, the growing reliance on digital streaming is a chance to keep up with technology and gain listeners. But the industry needs to do a better job of building on its strengths – personality, local, and the habit-forming good side of listening.

He adds that the decline in radio listening is “driven by new technology that offers commercial-free music for a monthly fee, on-demand programming and radio offering a less than optimal experience. My biggest long-term concern is the erosion of cars, still the #1 listening place for radio. The COVID and WFH lockdowns hurt, and because connected cars provide a conduit to satellite radio and all content on a smartphone, the challenge gets tougher with each passing year.

Fred’s main takeaway from the survey was COVID donation and COVID removal. “Major stations have made lasting connections with audiences during the pandemic. But we are still a long way from “normal”. Traffic and commuting levels are still lower than they were in 2019, and that weighs heavily on radio listening.

So what should radio do to reverse the trend of listeners turning to other options like SiriusXM or their Bluetooth device? “My purpose with the new set of questions – ‘Radio Against Everyone’ – is to make the industry aware that we are not just competing with other radio stations, bands and businesses. Broadcasters need to identify their defining differences and invest in them. With the new competition, the bar is raised. Broadcasters cannot deliver substandard experiences and expect to impose themselves. We must put audiences first, seek out their needs, and deliver the emotional benefits that only radio can provide.

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