Listen Up! Digital And Younger Listeners Changing Radio

According to Jacobs Media's new study of core radio listeners, the impact of digitally delivered media continues its rise, providing both opportunity and challenges to traditional radio broadcasters. The media habits of 11 different format core audiences, and five generations from Boomers to Millennials, find different patterns of radio consumption, says the report.

 Fred Jacobs, President, Jacobs Media, says "… digital's growth (in radio) is changing media habits… but by studying… younger listeners (Gens Y and Z)… provides an even greater understanding of where the puck is headed…"

 Some of the key findings from Techsurvey10:

  • Core radio listeners are moving fast to digital media & gadgetry. 75% own a smartphone, while 51% carry a tablet.  55% stream audio at least weekly, while 67% access online video during a typical 7-day period.
  • While 95% still tune in to radio daily, fewer respondents listen for a minimum of an hour on a typical day.  And perceptually, radio listening has momentum.  Compared to a year ago, only 9% say they’re listening to less radio, compared to 90% who say they’re listening to the same amount of radio, or more.
  • Many respondents are now actively accessing station content on digital channels. When asked to recall their prior week's listening to the station that sent them the survey, 17% of all broadcast radio consumption is occurring on digital channels – via computer and mobile streams, as well as on other sources.  The younger the generation, the more reliance there is on digital platforms to enjoy broadcast radio.
  • While Pandora is still the most popular of the pure-plays by a wide margin, criticisms of Pandora continue to intensify, led by perceptions that its commercials are annoying.  And while Gen Y and Z consumers are the top generations for Pandora listening, they are also the most critical of its commercials, says the report.
  • 19% of respondents say their vehicle (or the one they ride in most often) has a system like Audi Connect or Ford SYNC.  Similar to last year, 50% say the lion's share of their radio listening takes place in cars, especially progressively younger consumers.
  • Nearly as many consumers are roused every day by their phones as clock radios.  And the pattern is generational - a majority of Boomers still get out of the bed to buzzers or radio that emanate from clock radios, while at least six in ten Millennials (67%) and Gen Z (60%) participants use their phones to wake up.

Stations with great content can accelerate the digital tipping point via sharing, says the report. The percentage of those who frequently share online content via social, web, and email sources has doubled In this year's study.  34% say they frequently share compelling content, a huge opportunity for great stations and personalities. Women and Millennials are most apt to profile as "serial sharers."

 30% of respondents indicate they listen more to stations that interact with them, especially women and members of both Generations Y and Z. And, radio has an opportunity to collect much-needed usage data, as 72% of "streamies" say they’d be willing to provide basic information in exchange for accessing station streams, notes the report.

 But new music discovery has not reached the tipping point - A majority (51%) of those interested in new music designate radio as their go-to source.  While Gen Z respondents are also choosing YouTube and Pandora to find out about new music and new artists, broadcast radio also leads in the areas of artist access and listener trust when it comes to music consumption, concludes the study.

 Key Takeaways, concludes the report:

  • It is essential for broadcasters to view the competitive landscape beyond other stations down the dial.  Radio has a myriad of digital competitors, forcing the industry to develop effective strategies
  • Radio needs to excel in new digital spaces. Broadcasters need mobile engagement, a competitive stream, and to not treat social media as a hobby
  • It is essential that ratings account for all the different ways that consumers are accessing radio content 
  • Broadcasters should commit to a policy of social acknowledgment in order to reap the benefits of fan engagement
  • The study reaffirms the importance of the automotive industry to radio.  As more vehicles become truly “connected,” competition for the ears and attention spans of drivers will only intensify
  • Young consumers present new challenges & opportunities. Their media habits – from waking up in the morning to headphone usage – run counter to traditional behavior
  • Radio is a powerful force when it comes to new music discovery and artist exposure, and is emerging as a trusted source for music consumers


Reference FYI:

Baby Boomers, post World War II baby boom between the years 1946 and 1964

Gen X, after the Western Post–World War II baby boom. Early 1960s to the early 1980s

Millennials or Generation Y, following Generation X ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

Generation Z, after the Millennial Generation. Mid or late 1990s or from the mid 2000s to the present day. This is the generation that is currently being born.


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1 comment about "Listen Up! Digital And Younger Listeners Changing Radio ".
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  1. David Shor from Prove, April 20, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.

    Living in Los Angeles and seeing the devolution of terrestrial (including HD) radio, I'm confused about the stories of radio's "momentum." Clearly the growth is in digital streaming audio not terrestrial radio, unless you're counting the number of kids whose parents are giving them old cars when they turn 16 and have only a beat up detachable-faceplate radio.

    What has been tremendous for us at Prove ( is to see how well "listen-through" works: People listen to ads and then they just show up at the websites of our clients. And in some cases the listen-through is as high as the view-through on banners.

    So, we're digging streaming audio.

    But terrestrial radio, at least in LA, is abyssmal except for the NPR stations where the smart, upscale audiences go.

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