Radio Listeners are Coming Back with a Vengeance

BY Rachel Cagle
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Radio took a hit at the beginning of the pandemic, much like many other fairly traditional media formats. The average weekly cumulative audience for radio was 124.162 million pre-​COVID-​19. This fell to 106.604 million in April, according to Nielsen. But, ever so slowly, radio listeners have begun to steadily rise again. In October 2020, radio was at 97% recovery with 120.816 million average weekly listeners.

The Diversity of Radio Listeners

The great thing about radio is the way the medium reaches all age groups pretty much equally. American consumers between the ages of 35 and 64 are the most avid radio listeners (98% are weekly listeners), followed by 25- to 54-​year-​olds (97%). Even the age group with the smallest percentage of average weekly radio listeners, 18 to 84-​year-​olds, is at 95%.

Radio is also a medium that transcends race. 97% of Black consumers over the age of 12 are weekly radio listeners. Also, 98% of Hispanic consumers in the same age range can say the same.

Where Consumers are Listening

The most popular place for American consumers to listen to the radio is in their vehicles. That’s why radio took such a drastic tumble at the beginning of the pandemic. With more people than ever working from home, fewer reasons to leave the house, and travel bans, consumers just weren’t spending as much time in their cars as they were before.

But now, vaccine or not, many businesses and individuals have decided that they need to try for some form of normalcy. So, they’re driving more often, whether it’s back to work or to a socially distanced outing. The time heavy radio listeners are spending in their vehicles is continuously rising. In March, these listeners were only spending about one hour and six minutes in their vehicles on a daily basis. Now, that time is up to two hours and 11 minutes.

While 69% of radio listening may be done out-​of-​home, the pandemic did benefit in-​home listening a bit. According to a previous SalesFuel article, “28% of Americans say that they’re listening to radio content more often than before they were stuck at home. Another 55% say that they listen to about the same amount of radio content as before… they’re tuning in more in their homes (26%), via mobile (19%), on their computers (12%) and through smart speakers (10%).”

Listening Times

Dayparts on both weekdays and weekends are recovering steadily. The number of radio listeners over the age of 12 tuning in between 6 a.m. and midnight on weekends is now at 101% of what it was in March. Close behind for radio listening are the time period of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays at 96% and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays at 94%. Additionally, weekday listening periods from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. are also up to 92% and 89%, respectively.


But here’s the big question: Do radio listeners have any plans to purchase the products or services your client is trying to advertise? Find out on the Radio Ad Responders or various Radio Listeners audience profiles on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel to find out.