This past Memorial Day Weekend, AAA (American Automobile Association) predicted that more than 39.2 million Americans took to the road, traveling more than fifty miles to be with family and friends. It was the heaviest holiday traffic in two years and was due to pent-up demand by people trying to get back to the way things used to be before the global pandemic. Even record-high gas prices at the pump weren’t a deterrent.
What Did All Those People Listen To?
A publication I read every day, called Morning Brew, thought it might be fun to survey their four million readers as to what they planned to listen to on their drive. Here’s how they put the question to their readers:
You get handed the Aux (Auxiliary Input) during a long road trip.
What kind of audio are you putting on?
Morning Brew found they could distill the answers given down to five different options. Here are the results:
- Curated playlist: 54%
- Podcasts: 20%
- Audio Books: 12%
- No Aux needed – road trips are for the local radio stations: 10%
- Nothing, I prefer to ride in silence: 4%
Two things about these results I found interesting: the first was obviously the fact that broadcast radio was not the first, second or third choice for what to listen to when taking a long road trip.
Second, streaming audio wasn’t even a choice, in spite of the fact that these days many radio stations are beginning to focus on their streams due of the growth of smart speakers in the home.
If misery loves company, satellite radio wasn’t mentioned by Morning Brew’s four million readers either, it appears.
“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations
is to know those expectations.”
-Roy H. Williams
Radio & the Car
For years, I sold advertising telling people that cars were nothing more than radios on four wheels. Since the 1930s, cars and radio have been like peanut butter and jelly for pairing well together.
While a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is still #1 with sandwich eaters, car radio listening is not with audio listeners.
Radio reaches 73% of people in the car
and remains the #1 source for car audio listening.
– Statista Research 2022
Over the last five years, car radio listening, as measured by Statista has decreased 9%, while people playing their own digital music in the car has gone up 8%, and listening to podcasts has gone up 9%. Satellite radio listening over that same period is basically stagnant. (As a point of reference, back in the 70s & 80s car radio listening was around 93%.)
Statista’s latest research and Morning Brew’s reader survey are sadly telling the same story to any radio broadcaster willing to listen.
The reality is that people today have more control over what they can listen to when riding in their car.
Radio is Show Business
The challenge for broadcast radio is to figure out how to increase the value of the show that attracts and engages listeners while decreasing the obnoxiousness of the business part that pays all the bills.
Like a tightrope walker, it’s a very delicate balancing act.