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Radio’s Age Problem – Digital Gabe
Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

Radio’s Age Problem

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Yesterday Radio Ink featured an article with some fresh Nielsen research touting Radio’s reach at 93% of all Americans.  The thing that caught my eye about this article was the headline “Radio is as Strong as Ever”.  To me this article is proof that the radio industry is officially in denial of its age problem.

On the surface reaching 243M 18+ listeners every week sounds like a powerful stat.  Sure that audience is spread out over 11,341 US commercial stations which makes it impossible for advertisers to reach all those listeners, but that’s a detail the radio industry conveniently ignores while touting its total audience glory stat.  But that’s not the problem I have with this article – my beef is the age of their 93%.

If you look carefully at the chart below you’ll see the problem.   112M of radio’s 243M listeners are 50+ . . . that’s 46% of their audience!  Now there’s nothing wrong with being over 50 – I’m coming up on the big 5-0 and still consider myself a valuable consumer for marketers to reach.  But what happens to Radio in ten years when 100Mish of their listeners are 60+?  At some point their audience will age out of marketers’ target audience.

On the other side of the age spectrum radio isn’t winning the battle for younger listeners.  In the Morning Consult chart below you can see Pandora and Spotify are gaining significantly more 18-29 yo listeners than all 11,341 AM/FM radio stations combined.


I guess Radio Ink and Nieslen aren’t too concerned with radio’s age problem yet.  But if I were an owner, investor or employee of a broadcast radio station I’d be pretty nervous about the future.


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