Public Radio's Listener Share Solidified During the Pandemic: What It Means for You

Public Radio's Listener Share Solidified During the Pandemic: What It Means for You

The pandemic has altered many aspects of life. It has changed how we work, where we go, how we travel, which places we feel comfortable going to, and how much we socialize. For many, it has influenced how we vote and reinforced the need for objective, fact-based information sources. For public media, it has strengthened its commitment to its core values.   

Public media audiences are loyal. As public radio listener share grows, so does the trust in the brands that sponsor their favorite public stations. What that means for businesses is that sponsoring public radio allows you to leverage a loyal listening audience with the interest and ability to buy your products or services. Let's look into some reasons why public radio sponsorship is beneficial for your business.  

Why Listeners Are Tuning In  

Public radio listenership is discerning. They seek out more trustworthy and objective programming free from the clutter of commercial radio. As the pandemic grew, so did the atmosphere of partisanship and "alternative facts," standing in opposition to the principles that public radio embodies. Educated listeners want to know that the information they base their decisions on is as factually accurate and as free of bias as possible.  

The public media audience is highly educated and values learning new things. Public radio has always dedicated itself to providing education about both local communities and the world at large. Audiences know they can gain knowledge about travel, food, language, world events, and more. They also depend upon public media for a deeper news perspective.  

A Breakdown of Public Radio Listening Momentum  

Listening trends among public radio audiences were among the many behaviors influenced by the pandemic. Although it proved disruptive to how we listened, it created an even greater loyalty from longtime listeners and enticed a new audience of those who sought unbiased reporting and learning opportunities. 55% of the 23,000 core public radio listeners surveyed said their listening habits had not changed from the prior year.  

One in three admitted that their listening habits declined due to no longer following the news closely, and one in six cited news fatigue. 62% explained that their primary means of tuning in was in the car, which they rarely used during quarantine. 57% admitted that their lifestyle changes impacted their listening habits.  

Others have simply migrated away from terrestrial radio to digital streaming. One-third of the listeners surveyed don't have a radio available at their homes, causing them to find a new way to listen. 49% of the surveyed public radio listeners stream audio daily, and 18% stream at least weekly. Leading the pack are Millennials, Gen Xers, and Triple A fans.   

In fact, 36% of public radio consumption is digital. Local public radio stations entice three times the weekly listeners of Spotify and other streaming platforms at 66%, compared to 23% for Spotify and 21% for metro radio streams. Broadcast radio still dominates for accessing public radio, with 59% of in-car listeners choosing this method. That's four times more than the second choice for listening, SiriusXM.  

While many expect the public radio listener share to be primarily boomers, there are many more young listeners. Boomers represent 35% of listeners compared to 39% of Gen Z and millennials. 

Public Radio Sponsorship Reaches a Broad Audience of Engaged Consumers 

Public radio has served the public well for so many years because of its commitment to unbiased, educational, entertaining, and fact-based programming. It has its proverbial finger on the pulse of its listeners. Because there is an understanding that listening trends change, public radio stays current and appeals to a younger consumer group even while retaining older listeners. That delicate balancing act is accomplished by its continued adherence to its core values.  

Public radio sponsorship not only engages a broad audience of engaged consumers but also conveys the same respect and loyalty to your business that they feel for the station due to your support. Supporting public radio says that your brand also values truth and the pursuit of education. It attracts a group of consumers who are more likely to show their support by purchasing from your brand rather than a competitor. Rising public radio listener share means more opportunities for your sponsorship message to reach an engaged audience.  

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