AM/FM radio, the original electronic media, continues to win the hearts and minds of Americans, new research reveals.

And it seems radio’s long-lived popularity is both fuelling and benefitting from the current demand for audio content in all its forms, from podcasts to streaming and smart speakers.

Much of radio’s success continues to be based on the privileged place it occupies in consumers’ cars. “It’s free, ubiquitous, and at the fingertips of virtually every consumer on the road today,” points out the Nielsen report ‘Audio Today 2019. How America Listens’.

Add to this solid foundation “all the new delivery platforms and limitless content being offered from streaming and podcasters, and it’s easy to understand why the sector is growing”, said Brad Kelly, MD of Nielsen Audio.

And this huge appetite for audio is obviously catching the attention of advertisers.

“As the audio marketplace evolves, another macro trend is emerging,” Kelly added. “Big billion-dollar brands are (re)awakening to audio-based advertising solutions.”

Radio, the data shows, reaches more Americans (92%) than any other platform measured by Nielsen. Across age, gender and ethnicity, radio consistently connects with a larger number of consumers than TV, mobile or digital.

Kelly pointed out, however, that advertisers understand that no one type of media can do the job alone anymore. New advanced analytics and planning tools are helping radio leverage its mass appeal especially when used in combination with other channels.

The study shows that radio is most popular with the 18 to 49 demographic – the monthly reach for this age group is 132.4 million listeners (98% of the population). So, what are they all listening to? It turns out it’s country music, which is by far the most popular content on radio.

Radio’s reach also extends to younger teens, with 93%, or 23.3 million, of 12 to 17-year-olds tuning in each month. In this demographic, country drops to second place, behind Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR). Black and Hispanic adults also tune in in huge numbers, with 98% of each group listening on a monthly basis – that translates to 35.1 million black listeners and 45.6 million Hispanic listeners.

Since most radio is consumed away from home – out-of-home listening is more than twice as high (69%) compared to in-home (31%), much of it in cars – this offers marketers a significant opportunity to deliver their message just before a potential point of purchase, the report’s authors say.

Sourced from Nielsen; additional content by WARC staff