Answers To Your Questions About Radio


Andrew Hampp covers radio, cable TV and out-of-home advertising for Advertising Age. As part of AdAge's Media Marketing Guide, he addresses some frequently-asked questions about radio.

Who listens to radio these days, anyway? Doesn't everyone use their iPods and iPhones to hear music?

Believe it or not, radio's audience is still growing, with more than 239 million persons ages 12 or older interacting with the medium at least once a week, according to Arbitron's new RADAR 106 report. That's four million more than radio's weekly audience the previous year, a sign that the oldest broadcast medium is still finding new listeners.

In fact, network radio reaches more than 88% of adults 18 to 34, a 3% increase from the previous year, and more than 93% of African-Americans and 96% of Hispanic persons ages 12 or older. Radio's even a bit affluent -- 96% of college graduates ages 25 to 54 with an annual income of $50,000 or more still listen to radio once a week, while 88% of 18-to-49-year-olds with college degrees and an income of $75,000 or higher tune in each week. As for iPods and iPhones, 1 in 4 Americans connect their iPod to a car stereo, while 27% of the country, or 67 million people, listen to online radio every month, according to Edison Research and Arbitron.

OK, but do people still buy ads on radio? Doesn't everyone change the dial during ad breaks anyway?

Radio continues to experience quarterly revenue gains since 2000, growing to more than $5 billion, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau.  Surprisingly, a lot of that growth is driven by national advertisers, who've stayed away from the medium in recent years due to radio's inefficient measurement and buyer-unfriendly planning tools. As leading companies like iHeart Media (formerly Clear Channel) and CBS Radio continue to integrate sales forces (not to mention bundle buys with outdoor ads for key clients), it's become easier for leading wireless, entertainment, automotive, retail and financial service marketers to place their ads in radio. Plus, people seem to be hearing them -- Arbitron's RADAR 106 report revealed that 190 million persons ages 12 or older heard at least one radio commercial a week. Arbitron's Portable People Meter, introduced in several markets in 2007, has also helped national marketers equate radio to other media on a demographic and average-time-spent basis for the first time.

What about HD Radio? Does anyone listen to that?

Not as much as the radio industry would like you to, but more than you think. Weekly tune-ins vary by market, but the HD audience can be quite high in cities like New York (74.1 share among persons 12 and older), Los Angeles (79.8 share), Chicago (85.9 share) and even St. Louis (84.1 share.) More than 2,000 of the country's 13,000 stations have converted to HD, with more than 1,200 multicast channels. The consumer push to sell HD radio players at retail seems to have been shifted to installment deals with automotive manufacturers, with Lincoln, Audi and Kia signing up for standard or optional HD radio installations.  Leading HD radio manufacturer iBiquity has more than 1.5 million devices available in cars, consumer electronics and portable music players.

Is online radio a big deal yet?

Online radio has become a solid business, with SNL Kagan pegging the market to be worth more than $550 million. Arbitron and Edison put the weekly online radio audience at more than 50 million listeners.  The growth is thanks in part to developments like Apple's acquisition of Lala; News Corp.'s purchase of and Imeem; and the continued growth of leading radio site Pandora, as well as iHeartRadio and CBS Radio's Last.FM. Yahoo Music and News Corp.'s MySpace Music are also considered big online radio players, while satellite company Sirius XM has made an increased investment in online offerings to paying subscribers. Pandora is still the largest player in the space, surpassing 60 million registered users due to the continued success of its mobile app, as well as its linear ad-supported site.