Every year, Jacobs Media releases its Public Radio Techsurvey, which aims to track public radio listeners and looks at overall trends in radio listenership. The 2016 survey sampled 69 public radio stations across the country and was conducted between May and June. According to the survey, 88% of respondents report listening to broadcast radio for one or more hours a day. Additionally, 18% reported that they are listening to more public radio over the past year. Unsurprisingly, one explanation for increased listenership was last year’s highly-discussed presidential election.
The other notable trends from the survey included:
- Public radio’s health is strong, and more and more consumption is moving to digital platforms: 24% of respondents reporting listening to public radio through digital platforms
- The election represents a growth opportunity for public radio, especially among News/Talk devotees: 20% of respondents agreed that the election was responsible for an increase in listenership
- Millennials represent a huge challenge, but also a major opportunity: Gen Y public radio listeners are deep into podcasts, mobile phone usage, and social media connections
- Podcasting remains a solid growth opportunity, closely connected to the explosion in video on-demand consumption. Not surprisingly, Millennials are the biggest users.
- Mobile shows no signs of slowing down. Smartphones, in particular, are the pathway to reaching and connecting with Millennials.
- As is the case for all of broadcast radio, the car represents the top radio listening location.
- Sharing and recommendation scores are exceptional, providing public radio content creators with a strong opportunity to expand its boundaries and attract new users.
Respondents cited “learning new things, credible and objective programming, a deeper news perspective, respect for the listener’s intelligence and a balanced perspective” as their main reasons for turning into and supporting public radio. It will be interesting to see how public radio continues to grow and evolve in the New Year.