Radio is second only to TV for Americans, according to a recent Nielsen study, "How U.S. Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio." Among key "advertising-based" media platforms, live television had the highest reach and daily usage (95.3%, 331 minutes), followed by broadcast radio (77.3% reach, 109 minutes). Other highlights of the report show that radio consumption is indeed heavily tied to the car and weighted heavily towards the employed. According to the report, the unemployed, retired and students tend to be "lighter than average" consumers of radio.
Socially and politically, there is much trepidation from liberals about talk radio. Commonly, it is viewed as flat-out "right wing," "conservative," or a (gasp) Republican PR podium.
A summary of radio then: lack of solid student base; tied to the automobile and consumerism; and right-centric. If this is true, common sense would dictate that radio would not be fertile ground for anything greener than the lettuce on a Big Mac.
A recent success story, however, offers deep insight into how pervasive green is becoming, even across a typically non-green medium.
I spoke with Andrea Ridout, long-time talk show host and currently the voice behind Mother Earth News Radio.
Q: Is mass broadcast radio a typically conservative medium?
A: I ran a talk show for many years at a major radio station, and on several occasions was taken aside when certain hot-button phrases like "global warming" were mentioned on the air. So, yes, there has been a current of that type of thinking in the past: real top-down pressure to maintain a status quo.
Q: Have you been successful with Mother Earth News Radio, then? It would seem like an uphill battle to gain serious traction in the mainstream.
A: Let me put this into perspective for you. I ran a nationally syndicated talk show ("Ask Andrea") for three years, at which point we had reach of about 60 stations. In just over three months, Mother Earth News Radio has already been syndicated by over 30 stations, with two to three being added per week. This is with barely any pitching or promotion. It's overwhelming.
Q: How do you explain such a rapid adoption?
A:"Green" is something that has transcended the typical left-right spectrum. A cleaner earth is something we all want. Advertisers have reacted to this and companies are genuinely on board this time. I just received a pair of compostable shoes in the mail. Imagine, a shoe company which has dedicated an entire production line to "green"!
"Green" has clearly hit a tipping point of public acceptance, which is simply being reflected by advertisers and companies. An interesting anecdote here is a real dyed-in-the-wool "war, God, country, cattle" Texan. A few years ago, he would have had nothing to do with green. Just recently, he has begun to focus on sustainable and green construction as a major component of his core business.
Andrea added that her radio show's syndication has moved beyond the usual suspects, and now appears on (typically conservative) Christian radio stations. A quick online search shows that "Mother Earth News" is being broadcast on one network alongside "Gun Owner's News Hour" and "Bible's Greatest Heroes."
This contemporary success story is great news for anyone interested in green marketing and media, and it's a warning bell to any company aligning itself against this popular trend. Increasingly, the tide has become apolitical, and people are seeing green for what it is: good living and good business.