Wednesday, October 17, 2018


It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand worlds but sometimes it takes a chart to get to the heart of the matter.

Nobody knows this better than Edison Research [link]. We received a promotional email from Edison containing the company’s “greatest hits” – Recent research about terrestrial radio’s place in the audio world.

Though Edison’s email is an infomercial for their services, we thought we would share “the best of the best” with our readers.

On the left is a key slide from an Edison Research presentation the RAIN Summit in September 2018 [link] that asks existential question How does Radio compete if consumers don’t have radios?

According to research by Edison, in conjunction with Triton Digital, radio sets can no longer be found in almost 30% of American households. For younger folks in the 18-34 age demographic, half of their households do not a radio in the home.

To confirm this in real time, go to any big box store that carries electronics and try to find a portable AM/FM radio receiver.  The odds are, you won’t find any.

But plenty of people are still listening to AM/FM radio. 

The chart on the left, from Edison’s 2018 Share of Ear study [link], shows that 42% of Americans age 13+ hear audio on a typical day from an AM/FM radio device. 

The same percentage hears audio from a digital device. 

The next slide from the same study. It provides a more granular view of hearing audio on various digital devices. 

Mobile devices reach the largest chunk of digital users.

Note that Smart Speakers, such as Alexia, comprise only 2% of the Share of Ear.

Of course most radio listening occurs in a vehicle. 

The next few slides are from Edison’s Miles Different: In-Car Audio 2018 [link] presented in September at the NAB Radio Show in Orlando. Some of the data came from a special in-car survey in partnership with NPR.


Radio is still king of the car but a multitude of audio options mean a different in-car listening landscape.

Note the relatively low share for podcasts in cars.

Edison says that younger folks, ages 13-34, are the most likely to listen to digital audio in a vehicle with one exception: SiriusXM satellite radio.

Younger respondents in this study (and recent research for other providers, are the least likely to listen to SiriusXM.  Plus, even younger folks are still hearing a lot of radio.

 The menu of devices from which to choose grows longer every year. 

The slide on the left shows the in-car audio choices in 2003.

By 2011, the vehicle audio choices had changed but CD and cassette players were still in wide use.

In 2018, there are even more audio choices. 

Also note that traditional AM/FM is still the most-used in-car source.

Do the changes in audio sources impact radio programming? 

One staple of radio, traffic reports, appears under threat from digital Applications made possible by the plethora of Smart phones.

What are the best ways for public radio to respond and remain a vital choice? Double down on what radio does best:

• Be a companion with a real heartbeat

• Be local, live and focus onwhat is happening now

• Be honest, true and build trust

• Be like WXPN: Rhythms, not algorithms

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