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Radio’s Loss Is Pandora’s Gain

Online radio a clear favorite with teens and young adults

If young people are the voice of the future, then terrestrial radio is in trouble.

The Edison Research report “Radio’s Future II: The 2010 American Youth Study,” sponsored by Radio-Info.com, highlights the shifting sands of media usage among US teens and young adults, and the results are striking.

Waking up to the radio was a routine for 12- to 24-year-olds a decade ago, but the number who do so has sharply dwindled since. As many young people have given up their music and newspaper habits, the internet has replaced much of that activity.

The same trend is observable in total time spent with various media. In 2000, teens and young adults were spending close to 2 hours and 45 minutes listening to the radio each day. By 2010 it had fallen to an hour and a half. Time spent online had risen from an hour a day to almost 3.

Radio penetration remains almost universal, but a number of alternative music listening services have also emerged. In 2010, 36% of consumers surveyed by Bridge Ratings ages 12 and over had listened to online radio in the past week; 17% had listened to a podcast.

Pandora is the clear front runner among online radio services, according to online listeners surveyed by Vision Critical in March. Pandora was cited as the favorite by 27%, and 42% had listened in the past year. No other service garnered more than a single-digit response.

Personalization, the ability to skip songs and fewer commercials were the top reasons cited by Pandora listeners for using the service. The Edison report advises that the internet radio offerings from FM-AM stations must be more than just a clone of their over-the-air product. Terrestrial stations should incorporate more of the advantages the web provides into their online efforts to regain relevance.

—Jared Jenks

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Check out today’s other article, “Canadian Online Advertising Set to Bounce Back Strong.”

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