Old Dog, New Tricks

Radio remains a popular media platform, so consider it as part of your integrated communications.I can almost hear the golden tones of the radio announcer from the 1950s introducing each episode of the Lone Ranger: “Let us now return to the days of yesteryear.”

Radio is not the dominant force it once was, but it still delivers an impressive audience. So, when your integrated communications plan calls for advertising, don’t forget radio. New media may get more buzz but radio gets more attention. In fact, people really like this old standby media. It makes them happy, according to a survey just released in Great Britain.

"On average, when consuming radio, happiness and energy scores increase by 100 percent and 300 percent compared to when no media is being consumed," the Huffington Post reported in a story about the study. But happiness increased most when that media was the radio.

Radio is a kind of "lifestyle support system," the authors wrote, which helps people feel better as they go about their days. Many respondents didn't realize how important radio was in their lives until they had participated in the exercise, the story noted.

"Why else do people listen to music radio, other than to get enjoyment out of it?" says Boston College professor Michael C. Keith in the same Huffington Post article. "People don't listen to radio to be depressed, certainly not when it comes to entertainment radio or music radio. The whole idea of listening to radio is to gain companionship and, at the same time, enjoyment."

Commissioned by the Radio Advertising Bureau, 1,000 Britons participated in the study using their smartphones to respond to questions about their media consumption. Delivering a stable audience, too, is another benefit of radio, according to the Pew Research Center’s annual State of the Media report for 2011.

“Of all the traditional media, the audience for AM/FM radio has remained among the most stable. In all, 93 percent of Americans listened to AM/FM radio at some point during the week in 2010, according to data from Arbitron, and this has dropped only three percentage points in the last decade” Pew reported. Radio news consumption dipped a bit more.

The picture is brighter for public radio, Pew reported. “NPR, by contrast, has flourished as commercial all-news radio programming has become scarcer. NPR’s audience grew 3 percent in 2010, according to NPR internal data, to 27.2 million a week. That is up 58 percent since 2000.

But the biggest change in radio listening may be just ahead, the Pew study said. “A good deal of radio listening occurs in cars, and we are on the brink of Internet radio being widely available there for the first time.”

Sorta like an old dog and new tricks.