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Research (in)Digest

| March 24, 2014

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Like listeners dizzied by more-more-more media choices, we, inside-the-box, are bombarded by a torrent of data about our own changing media landscape.

Recently here, I summarized a real useful Edison Research/Triton Digital study: “The Infinite Dial 2014.”


And here’s the short version of more recently-released research that relates to your work, and some recommendations accordingly:

Slightly More Listen Slightly Less.

Whenever it’s “Good News/Bad News,” you always want the Bad News first, right?

  • Q4 2013 Nielsen Cross-Platform Report: Among Persons 18+, AM/FM use averages 2 hours 46 minutes per day.  That’s down from 2:50 a-year-earlier and 2:53 the-year-before-that.  These TSL numbers include HD and station Internet streams.  The-older-the-listener, the-more-Time-Spent with AM/FM.
  • From Nielsen’s March 2013 RADAR report: Radio’s national reach grew 1.2+ million listeners year over year.  244 million P12+ use AM/FM Mon-Sun 12M-12M.  

“That we’re holding onto our share is still a very strong story.”

“Obviously we would love to see radio increasing its share,” RAB president Erica Farber admits to the trade press, but “competition out there for advertising dollars in general is at an all-time high.”

And radio kept-flat year-to-year at $17.6 billion because digital growth made-up for spot revenue erosion.  Per RAB research by Borrell Associates, digital advertising is about 3% of the average station’s revenue.

Dollars will follow eyes-and-ears, which follow content, as new-tech competitors make inroads into legacy media fare…

“Where would you go to first for information in the event of an emergency?”

Researcher Mark Kassof asked 707 P18-64 “Would you turn to…”

  • TV: 37%
  • Internet: 25%
  • AM/FM radio: 17%
  • Smartphone apps: 13%

“Radio’s demo divide is based on gender, not age:” Men (20%) tend to turn to radio more than women (12%).  “45-64 year old men the most likely.”

Kassof recalls a tornado hit just 10 miles from home: “I turned on our local ‘community’ station and all it had to offer was a talk radio blowhard from more than a thousand miles away, and even further from our very real concerns at that moment.”

Accordingly, when big news breaks:

  • CAN you deliver?  Got staff?  If not, don’t over-promise.  Is a better bet simulcasting a better-staffed TV partner?
  • Got what-if’s already war-gamed?  If not, plan NOW.
  • When-the-fit-hits-the-shan – and it looks like an extended event – DON’T call all-hands-on-deck.  Anticipate shifts.
  • As the story breaks, repetition is good.  Keep serving-up “what we know” & assure ‘em you’re on it.  Avoid speculation.
  • As the story unfolds, keep-up the factual bullet points, most-recent-first…and go-deep, if possible going-local…
  • Is The Big Story elsewhere something a local expert can explain?  Local university professor?
  • If The Big Story is local, ask authorities “What should our listeners do?”  If not, ask ‘em “Could it happen here?”
  • See those Internet and Smartphone app numbers above?  How helpful are you there?
  • Afterward, avoid self-congratulatory promos.  Instead thank listeners, for their confidence. 

Nielsen: Smartphone use has surpassed computer use…and that matters to radio advertisers.

Though still trailing radio & TV, smartphone use averaged 67 minutes per day in 2013, up from 53 in 2012 and 48 2011.

Women spend almost an-hour-and-a-half per month more than men using mobile apps.

The gender gap widens among tablet-toters, with women spending 5+ hours/month more than men on tablets.  And much of that activity is mission-critical to radio’s advertisers: Most smartphone (66%) and tablet (65%) users now research purchases in-store (“showrooming”).

The-more-meaningful-a-station’s-presence on this new platform, the more relevant it’ll remain, to listeners AND advertisers.


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of talk radio and the internet.  Follow him @HollandCooke on Twitter, and meet HC at Talkers New York  2014 on Friday,  June 20.


Category: Advice, Analysis