A series of new studies reveals the immense connection and emotional appeal of AM/FM radio personalities and podcast hosts, affording impressive results for advertisers.
Jacobs Media Techsurvey 2023: Personalities are the primary reason for listening to AM/FM radio
Fielded in January/February of 2023, 30,011 U.S. AM/FM radio listeners participated in the massive Jacobs Media Techsurvey. 60% of consumers say “DJs/hosts/shows” are the main reason they listen to AM/FM radio.
Personalities are the number three reason for listening ahead of “hearing favorite songs and music.” In 2014, Jacobs Media found music beat personalities 70% to 57% as the primary reason for listening. Now, personalities beat music 60% to 57% as the main reason for listening.
The younger the AM/FM radio listener, the more AM/FM radio personalities are the main reason for listening
Jacobs Media found 65% of Gen Z (13–26-year-olds) and Millennials (27-42-year-olds) say personalities are the main reason they listen to AM/FM radio. 63% of 43-58 Gen Xers and 56% of 59-77 Boomers say personalities are the key driver for AM/FM radio listening.
AM/FM radio personalities provide a local feel as AM/FM radio’s local presence perception increases
In 2018, Jacobs Media reported 43% strongly agreed that “one of AM/FM radio’s primary advantages is its local feel.” 57% now cite “local feel” as one of AM/FM radio’s primary advantages. The proportion that say “local feel” is one of AM/FM radio’s primary advantages is up +33% since 2018 (43% to 57%).
MARU/Matchbox: Listeners feel connected to their favorite AM/FM radio DJs, personalities, and shows
A 1,571-person national study conducted by MARU/Matchbox in January 2020 reveals listeners develop loyal relationships with AM/FM radio personalities based on humor and trust.
- Comedic relief: 90% strongly or somewhat agree that their favorite DJs make them laugh.
- Local feel: 73% say personalities understand what makes my city/town unique.
- Thought-provoking: 64% agree that they make them think.
- Strong loyalty: 64% of listeners would follow their favorite DJs to another station if they moved.
- Part of their lives: 52% indicate their daily routine wouldn’t be the same without hearing their favorite AM/FM radio show.
- Personality-read ads catch listener attention: 53% say they pay more attention when their favorite DJ reads an ad.
- Like family: 52% consider them to be like friends or family. AM/FM radio continues to prove itself as an important one-on-one form of communication.
- Trusted opinion leaders: Perhaps the most important finding for advertisers? Almost half of AM/FM radio listeners (46%) believe that their favorite personality or show are opinion leaders that they trust.
The results show a strong affinity and trust that marketers can use to their advantage in audio creative.
AM/FM radio personalities drive listener action
The MARU/Matchbox study found listeners speak to friends and family about things they hear on their favorite personality’s AM/FM radio show. Listeners engage with their favorite shows online, via social media, and by calling the radio station. 30% say they searched for a product or service recommended by the radio personality.
MAGNA Media Trials and Vox Media study: Podcast hosts are 5 times more influential than social media stars and 7 times more influential than TV/movie celebrities
Magna and Vox Media surveyed 2,028 weekly podcast listeners and asked, “Whose influence matters most?” A stunning 75% cited podcast hosts while only 15% named social media influencers or TV/movie celebrities (10%).
Podcast hosts convey trust with authenticity and provide insights and knowledge; Social media influencers and TV/movie stars are just famous
Visual media can impart fame but offer little substance. Spoken word audio imparts information and provides new perspectives.
The MAGNA/Vox Media study found 90% said “listening to podcasts made (me) more open to new perspectives and topics.” 68% said they “have a deep connection with their favorite podcasters.”
Michael Barbaro, host of The Daily from the New York Times, observed on an October 2017 episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, “The human voice doesn’t lie … there is such a power in the lack of a visual distraction in just hearing the voice and hearing someone think out loud. I think that’s why we’re living in this golden age of audio and podcasting … I appreciate all the power that resides in the truth we tell in our voice.”
Eight in ten say podcast content is superior to social media content
The MAGNA/Vox Media study found 79% of weekly podcast listeners agreed podcast content was superior to that of social media.
Interactive Advertising Bureau: Podcasting dominates social media in consumer concentration and attentiveness
The vastly superior quality of podcast content over social media translates into significantly greater consumer attentiveness. A landmark MARU/Matchbox study commissioned by the IAB in 2018 found far more consumers said they concentrated a lot when listening to podcasts (71%) than checking social media (44%). Media platforms earning the greatest consumer attention imparted information such as news, the weather, and podcasts.
Podcast listeners perceive podcast hosts to be trusted friends
An MRI-Simmons April 2023 podcast study found 79% of listeners “felt close to podcast hosts.” The MAGNA/Vox study reported 80% of weekly podcast listeners indicate hosts “felt like a friend.”
Nielsen: Audio listeners feel ads delivered by audio personalities get more of their attention
All of this content value, trust, and attentiveness generates exceptional advertising results. A March 2022 Nielsen study of 1,000 Americans found 44% of AM/FM radio listeners agreed that “ads delivered by audio hosts get more of their attention than recorded commercials.” 56% of podcast listeners agreed with this statement.
- Jacobs Media Techsurvey 2023: Personalities are the primary reason for listening to AM/FM radio
- The younger the AM/FM radio listener, the more AM/FM radio personalities are the main reason for listening
- AM/FM radio personalities provide a local feel as AM/FM radio’s local presence perception increases
- Listeners feel connected to their favorite AM/FM radio DJs, personalities, and shows
- AM/FM radio personalities and podcast hosts drive listener action
- MAGNA Media Trials and Vox Media study: Podcast hosts are 5 times more influential than social media stars and 7 times more influential than TV/movie celebrities
- Podcast hosts convey trust with authenticity and provide insights and knowledge; Social media influencers and TV/movie stars are just famous
- Eight in ten say podcast content is superior to social media content
- IAB: Podcasting dominates social media in consumer concentration and attentiveness
- Podcast listeners perceive podcast hosts to be trusted friends
- Nielsen: Audio listeners feel ads delivered by audio personalities get more of their attention
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Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.