Radio remains a potent tool for marketers to promote their products, services, and brands. Yet given radio's long history, the rise of the Internet, and the fragmentation of traditional media channels, radio is sometimes stigmatized as outdated and antiquated. Some media buyers focus instead on emerging and often unproven platforms. And some unfairly dismiss radio as a dying medium.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Radio isn't dead. Aided by the emergence of new formats, radio has found purchase with all age groups. Many radio stations, aware of how consumer media consumption patterns have changed, have embraced on-demand radio, podcasts, digital media, and other new platforms. Nearly 3 billion people listen to radio worldwide each week - almost 40 percent of the global population. This medium reaches more people than any other, proving that radio continues to flourish.
Radio's resilience and committed listenership stems from several key attributes that make it unique among marketing media. It's widely accessible, informative and entertaining, credible, adaptable, and inclusive, making it an important component of any business's marketing efforts. Here is why radio is here to stay.
Today, you can not only listen to your favorite AM/FM station on your old clock radio, but you can listen to an even broader array of stations on your smart speaker or subscription service in your car. People can listen to traditional stations for free, and while other stations may require a subscription, many radio stations stream for free on their websites. Radio stations also produce podcasts featuring beloved personalities or programming that often includes or reflects their on-air content. No matter where in the world you go, you can tune into a local radio station or download radio content online.
Radio stations produce a wide variety of programming ranging from game shows to pop culture discussions to local interest topics. Of course, there's also music programming, which can uplift, inspire, and provoke. You can get the news too, often in a depth unmatched online, and far exceeding what’s available on TV. Audio interviews with individuals humanize and contextualize the events most important to you using engaging storytelling methods. And niche programs on subjects of interest can help deepen your knowledge of and interest in your hobby, encourage you to take up a new pursuit, or broaden your perspective.
Many consumers are devotees of particular radio programs and may listen to those shows for years. The radio personalities they listen to become a part of their lives, and this familiarity breeds trust. A recent study found that radio is the nation's most trusted medium, eclipsing all other media by wide margins. Public radio listeners prefer to buy from brands they hear on the radio, as they associate those brands with the quality of the programming. Radio is an established part of consumers' lives that can't be easily replicated or displaced.
Radio can easily be adapted to shifting individual media consumption patterns. Radio content is easily digitizable. As such, it has been made available across devices and platforms, and much of the industry continues to embrace related formats, like podcasts, that can extend radio's reach and listenership.
Radio stations are also responsive to new trends and current events. For example, a radio programmer can interrupt pre-recorded broadcast content for live reporting in case of an emergency. And with today's digital editing tools, they can edit content relatively quickly. Radio's capacity to adapt to the news and cultural developments of the day enhances its credibility as well.
Radio's penetration spans all demographics. In the U.S., for example, radio listenership surpasses 90 percent for all age cohorts, genders, and racial demographics. When it comes to African American and Hispanic listeners, radio has some of the highest reach rates, at 98 percent and 99 percent, respectively. Men and women listen to the radio at roughly the same rates across age cohorts and other demographic attributes as well.
Radio programming, too, spans the gamut. Stations produce a variety of programs grounded in perspectives that range across the political spectrum. No matter what listeners believe or want to learn more about, there's a radio program out there geared towards them. This diversity of listenership and programming is a boon to marketers trying to reach specific target audiences.
Marketing and business pundits have been predicting the demise of radio for years. However, radio isn't dead. It has endured and worked tirelessly to adapt to changing consumer preferences and adopt new technologies and formats to grow listener bases worldwide. When a teenager can listen to a radio station half a world away through their browser, radio is no antiquated medium. Radio is a powerful channel now, and its staying power shows no signs of abating any time soon.
If you're giving radio a second look, it can be challenging to know where to start. Given radio's embrace of different platforms and formats, there are many options available for marketers. To make the most of your public radio marketing dollars, it's best to work with an experienced and trusted media partner who can help you identify and secure the right opportunities for your business.