Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Edison Research and Triton Digital have released a custom report of their recent Infinite Dial study that focuses on respondents who are “heavy listeners” to radio and other audio sources. These folks are the super-fans and many are “P-1’s” in Nielsen lingo – people who listen/hear one station more any other stations.

A standard rule of marketing is that 30% of your customers provide 70% of your business.  These numbers vary a bit for each industry, but the basic principle is the same.

CHART 1: Edison defines a “heavy radio consumer” as someone who listens to radio an hour or more past 24 hours. According to the study, 30% of the respondents are “heavy” (nothing personal lol) and another 33% reported that they listened to no radio at all. The majority of respondents, 37%, listen to radio but for shorter amounts of time.

CHART 2: Heavy radio consumers can be of any age but they tend to be concentrated in people ages 35 – 64.

CHART 3:  Heavy radio consumers are slightly more likely to be men.

CHART 4:  While there is not a strong difference by ethnicity, African-Americans and Hispanics are slightly more likely to be heavy radio consumers than their share of the population.

CHART 5: Folks who have a college degree are most often heavy consumers of radio. An unusual finding, according to the Edison study, is that radio listeners with more education than a four-year degree, such as graduate degree, consume less radio.  Common wisdom is that public radio listeners, on average, tend to have higher levels of education than the general public.  Keep in mind this is a survey of the general public of which public radio folks are subset.

CHART 6: It is not surprising that heavy radio listeners consume more broadcast radio than the general population, but they also consume more audio from other devices too. Note the higher numbers for Satellite Radio and online streaming.

CHART SEVEN 7: Heavy radio consumers are just a tad more likely to have listened to a podcast than the population overall. There is consistent evidence that while there is overlap between podcasting and ‘radio’ listening, they are not a perfect overlay.


It is important to keep in mind that Edison’s Infinite Dial is studying consumer behavior and not consumer perceptions.  In other words, it provides the "what" and "when" but not the "why" things are happening.

Though a very large proportion of the population is listening to radio, competition from other audio sources is chipping away the time-spent-listening to radio. Though it is a stretch to say radio is now at significant risk of loosing its heaviest listeners, more competition will mean there will be a shrinking share for radio versus other media. So things will continue to be in transition.

This means it is essential for radio programming to be as good as possible to hold consumption levels. If you are responsible for creating radio programming, don't settle for canned, automated and boring content.  Now is the time for radio to be bold, bright and consequential.  It is the slackers in the biz who hurt everyone.

who make radio boring hurt everyone in the biz.

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