The average all-news radio station had six-times as much revenue as the typical news-talk station last year. A Pew analysis of BIA Advisory Services data also shows that despite 2020 being a banner year for news, it was talk stations that weathered the economic downturn better than all-news outlets.
BIA says the average all-news station had $13.866 million in revenue last year, a 24% decline from a year earlier. At the same time, the typical news-talk station had $2.106 million in revenue, a smaller 21% drop from 2019. With a bigger reliance on in-car listening, the roughly two dozen big market all-news stations suffered from bigger drop-offs in consumption than talk-focused stations where conversations about the pandemic and presidential content burned up the airwaves last year.
There were 3,360 news employees in the radio broadcasting industry in 2020, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was a drop of 170 compared to 2019. It was also about one thousand fewer than in 2004, when there were 4,290 news employees in radio. The number has however bounced back from its low point of 2016 when the government said 3,190 people worked in radio news.
Pew says the median wage in 2020 for news analysts, reporters and journalists in the radio broadcasting industry was $49,480. That was a 10% increase from 2019 to the highest median on record. Editors in the radio broadcasting industry had a median annual wage of $79,280. That was a 9% year-over-year increase and also the highest figure to date.
Pew Research Center's annual State of the News Media report notes the audience for broadcast radio listening remains high – the most recent Nielsen data shows in June 2021 the medium reached 88% of adults 18 and older – and a 2019 survey by Nielsen showed half of U.S. adults said they got news on the radio often or sometimes.
But the share of podcast listening has also substantially increased over the last decade. The latest Infinite Dial study by Edison Research showed 41% of Americans ages 12 or older have listened to a podcast in the past month. That was up from 37% in 2020 and 9% in 2008.
Across the entire media world, Pew reports newsroom employment in the U.S. has dropped by 26% since 2008. But while newspapers have seen steep job losses during that span, digital-native news organizations have seen considerable gains, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Radio broadcasting has lost 26% of its newsroom employees, dropping from about 4,600 workers in 2008 to about 3,400 by 2020,” its report says. Yet the data shows radio’s share of news employees has remained steady, making up about four percent of news employees in the U.S.