In the midst of the chaos we’ve been experiencing, consumer behaviors around media have been shifting. A recent article from RadioInk.com showcased the growing appeal for local radio content. Though this a behavior we’ve seen increasing over the last few years, it has heightened significantly over the last few months. A small portion of this growing audience are the less tech-focused, but they are far from the majority. A more significant common factor is the heightened human need for a sense of community connection. An article on RadioWorld.com at the end of June stated, “We have seen local media outlets responding to the rally cry from consumers and local businesses by setting up useful and meaningful tools to better the community. From dedicated food delivery platforms for restaurants, to raising money for causes around COVID-19 and providing access to food services for those in need, these interactions create a unique, personal and emotional connection with audiences that perhaps only radio can achieve during this time. Communities can come together and feel connected via the medium.”
Countless local radio stations have made it a priority to deliver unifying and informative localized stories, as well as play a key role in forwarding community positivity. These stations have given voices to their on-air personalities that have strongly intensified loyalty in listeners. From behaviors like helping to clean up looted local businesses, to inviting business owners to call in and relay the struggles they face, while inviting listeners to support them. These types of actions have created a sense of connection, stability and empowerment among listeners. The local voices, stories and outlets let them know they weren’t alone in their struggles, but also guided them in finding ways to be involved, thereby minimizing feelings of helplessness.
The LA Times reported stations seeing as much as a 55% increase in listenership. Likewise, the social media accounts for stations saw their engagement and reach increase by 300% and more. A study by Nielsen in late March reported that, not surprisingly, all media consumption is up. Yet amid the various media options consumers have to choose from, including streaming platforms and connected TVs, their study found that 83% of consumers say they’re listening to as much or more radio as they were before the pandemic. They cited that 60% of adult Americans hold radio in high regard and trust it to deliver timely information about the current COVID-19 outbreak and other critical events.“ In a time of heightened uncertainty and disrupted routines, consumers are turning to radio as a trusted source of information and community connection.” Statista.com showcased similar findings in their mid-June study report.
Though we’ve understandably seen a significant increase in radio discussions with medical experts and human rights advocates, other businesses and influencers are also making appearances. Primarily it is those who are revising approaches or finding entirely new ways to be beneficial and draw in potential consumers. Radio is doing a fabulous job of showcasing the efforts of these local and national offerings — from health and fitness companies and individuals offering online and virtual workout guidance, to educational businesses offering at-home education. Though these are most certainly trying times, they are also times of accelerated reinvention. Some of these new approaches will surely become a part of our everyday life in the future.
An article on Billboard.com sited that despite furloughs, layoffs and advertising reductions, radio industry executives remained hopeful. Why? Because radio excels during a crisis. Since this state of crisis is now seeming that it will be around for a good portion of 2020, we can assume that these increased connections will translate into more loyal radio listeners, even once we get back to whatever our new normal will be. Why? To quote Tom Poleman, chief programming officer at iHeartMedia, “We’re in the friendship business, and that’s kind of what we’re maximizing right now.” And we at National Aircheck can’t help but believe these maximized long-lasting efforts will likely shape content and approaches for years to come. Habits are born out of this type of regularity, as are lasting and valued friendships.