The radio industry has experienced significant changes since the start of the digital age. The number of formats is rising and listeners can now choose between traditional radio, satellite radio, and online streaming. But at least one research shop believes that the greatest threat to the radio broadcast industry is not the increasing range of available formats.

Alan Burns and Associates has just released its latest findings on women radio listeners. Many of these listeners spend  a significant portion of their day in the car, driving. The research shows that 69% are frequently tuned in and often they are listening to local stations.

CEO Alan Burns says the advantage of the local stations, with respect to women listeners, is that they appreciate the “energy, excitement and local information” they get from this media format.  But streaming radio service providers  are gearing up to compete. For now, few women are interested in paying for streaming radio service. Only 3% of women Pandora subscribers pay for unlimited access. About 6.6% of the current streamers show interest in paying $10 a month for this access.

Price is not the only issue. Radio stations have been slow to engage consumers through their online sites. Only 27% of women have visited a radio station site in the past week.

And, further scrutiny of younger consumers shows that radio audiences are likely to grow more fragmented over time. Younger consumers don’t feel the same allegiance to local radio stations as older consumers.

This attitude should drive stations to work harder to build connections with local listeners. Burns encourages station operators to ‘maximize’ their strengths perhaps through social media and other online tactics as competitors seek to weaken them. Showing a loyal and committed audience will allow stations to demand higher rates from marketers, especially those that target women.

[Source: Burns Study: Radio Has More Fragmentation Ahead. Fmqb.com. 22 Jul. 2011. Web. 27 Jul. 2011]