The latest information from the 2005 Arbitron study, “How America Listens to Radio,” tells us that Monday through Friday, the majority of radio listeners start their day by turning the dial to a station that broadcasts news, talk or information. In fact, news-talk is the number one format with the largest share of listeners during morning drive from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Who are these listeners? Findings show, 43 percent of the morning drive listeners hold college degrees and nearly two-thirds have household incomes of $50,000-plus. They enjoy driving luxury cars, buying the latest electronic gadgets, playing golf, snow skiing, going to the movies or the theater at least once a month, investing in money market accounts, and owning their own homes.
So, what kind of information are they tuning-in to hear? They want to hear new, compelling and substantive information. These listeners don’t want old, stale, repetitive information, but rather, material that is going to make an impression on their lives, a difference in their lives, and give them more control over their lives. They are looking for the latest facts that will keep them up-to-date, educated and entertained as they start their day.
As we pitch stories to reporters every day, we often get feedback on what their listeners consider important. The leading topics of interest include:
Current Events – Listeners tune into breaking news, national and local happenings, such as elections, sporting events, natural disasters, and war. Tying into timely events makes for successful placement of news releases and interviews.
Medical Breakthroughs – Listeners want to hear about treatments, procedures, epidemics, and new studies concerning diseases. Providing new information is essential, especially with annual events like Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Diabetes Awareness Month, to keep these topics fresh and radio stations interested. Stations want to keep promotion of specific pharmaceutical companies or the drugs they are developing to a minimum.
Consumer Trends – Listeners want to get solid investment tips, warnings about scams, information on good deals and those to stay away from. Providing strong consumer focused information and advice, not pushing a particular product or company, is the key to success in getting your interview on the air.
High-Tech Advances – Listeners are looking for knowledge and understanding of the latest technology and how it can improve their quality of life. Providing simple explanations in common everyday language is the best way to secure radio placements.
“Water Cooler Conversation” – This is information that has a “wow” factor or is peppered with bits and pieces of trivia that can be prefaced by “Did you know?…” or “Did you hear?…” Everyone wants to be able to appear “witty,” so if you have a study or a survey with incredible or peculiar findings, it could be a hit, because it will make people stop and listen. And there’s nothing radio stations want more than a listener’s full attention.
Call to Action – These are reports that result in listeners taking action because they are stirred by what they hear. Providing an interview that motivates listeners to call their legislators, sign a petition or round up support, gets stations excited as well.
Celebrity Figures – These are authors, journalists, musicians, athletes, and TV/film actors. Hearing from “stars” about their careers, their personal lives, and their experiences is always fascinating. For those promoting TV shows, documentaries and non-profit events, having celebrities available for radio interviews can result in big ratings.
PR professionals should remember that radio stations are bombarded with hundreds of pitches each day. The successful media relations representatives are the ones who have asked themselves these important questions: Who is listening at this hour? And, why would they want to book this interview, this spokesperson or use this press release? Keeping these key points in mind can help make your next radio pitch a homerun!

by Martha Sharan
Operations Manager
News Generation, Inc.


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