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Among Radio’s Biggest Fans, A Growing Number Are Dialing Into Podcasts.

Nearly four in ten radio listeners now regularly listen to podcasts each month. That is according to Techsurvey 2021. Jacobs Media’s annual survey, which was conducted among people who have opted-in to radio station email databases and are therefore big fans of the broadcast medium, finds nevertheless 14% of them report they consume podcasts on a daily basis. Another 15% turn to podcasts at least once a week. And 9% report listening monthly.

“Is it a hot area? Absolutely, and it's growing. But it still has a long way to go,” said Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs. “Podcasting had a pretty good year, and yet in spite of that, there's a lot of people who are still not really involved with podcasts in any way, shape or form.”

Roughly four-in-ten radio listeners said they never listen to podcasts and one-in-five listen to less than one per month, Jacobs pointed out during a webinar Thursday. But Techsurvey results show in the years to come momentum is in podcasting’s favor. “Look who's into podcasting – the audience that radio really needs in order to thrive and survive: young people, Gen Z and Millennials,” he said.

Techsurvey 2021 data shows nearly half (48%) of Millennials and 43% of GenZs already listen to podcasts either daily or weekly. That compares to a third of Gen Xers and roughly a quarter of Baby Boomers.

The overall numbers are also growing. This year 29% of those surveyed reported they listen either each day or weekly. That is up from 26% last year and up from 21% in 2017.

Two-thirds of radio listeners said that podcast listening is not impacting their time turned to AM/FM radio. But Jacobs called it an “inconvenient truth” that one in three think it is impacting their radio habits. “Podcasting is erosive to AM/FM radio listening, especially among its biggest fans,” he said. “One of the tough realities about podcasting is the more people move into podcasting, the more they gravitate away from commercial radio.”

The survey also found that among monthly podcast listeners, the preference is on live-read ads compared to pre-produced commercials. That is especially true among younger age groups. Among the Gen Z demo, seven in ten said they would rather hear a live-read ad and 53% of Millennials agreed. “There is more trust in the hosts of podcasts to do a good live read, and the younger you are, the greater the likelihood that you want the host to read the ads,” said Jacobs. The data shows older demos were less inclined to prefer live-read ads.

Commercials in podcasts are easily skipped, and despite other research finding most listeners stick with the ads, the Techsurvey of radio listeners shows a majority reported they skip ads on podcasts almost all (34%) or most of the time (17%).

“Commercials in podcasts are about as popular as commercials on the radio,” said Jacobs. Even so, the data shows 16% said they never skip.

The results are based on Jacobs' annual online survey of more than 42,000 core radio users from the email databases of 470 participating stations. It was conducted Jan. 5-Feb. 7, 2021.

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