As broadcasters and lawmakers in Washington await word from nine automakers on their plans for AM radio in their vehicles, Nielsen is out with a list of the 141 markets where AM radio is listened to monthly by at least 20% of the radio audience. To be clear, the list, based on the Fall 2022 survey, shows the percentage of radio listeners that tune to AM radio in a month, not the percentage of all radio listening that goes to AM.
Buffalo-Niagara Falls leads the list – 56% of the radio audience in Nielsen Audio metro No. 59 listens to AM radio in a month. Buffalo is home to a pair of heritage AM stations that consistently are among the market’s top 10 most listened to outlets: Audacy news/talk WBEN (930) and sports sister WGR (550). Neither station has an FM simulcast.
Chicago ranked second – 48% of Windy City radio listeners tune to AM radio. The market is home to three successful AM-only stations: Nexstar talk WGN (720), Audacy sports “670 The Score” WSCR and Cumulus talk WLS-AM (890). Ditto Milwaukee where iHeartMedia news/talk WISN (1130) ranked first in Nielsen’s April PPM survey among all listeners aged 6+.
The top three markets for AM are all cities on the Great Lakes. And Westwood One’s analysis of the new data shows markets with the largest proportion of AM listeners tend to be from the upper Midwest. In addition, regions with hilly terrain, such as San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento, have traditionally been big AM markets due to the challenges their topography causes for FM signals.
However, there is a wide variety of market sizes and broad geographical diversity among the 141 markets where at least 20% of radio listeners tune to AM radio monthly. They range from Seattle-Tacoma (42%) to Shreveport, LA (33%), and from Philadelphia (32%) to Tucson (36%). Importantly, the list covers all market sizes, including all of the top ten and goes all the way down to some of the very smallest Nielsen-rated markets, including Brunswick, GA (No. 249), Jackson, TN (No. 252) and Sioux City, IA (No. 244).
The new Nielsen study comes one month after research from Nielsen's Fall 2022 survey showed that AM radio reaches 82.3 million Americans monthly, representing one out of three U.S. AM/FM radio listeners. And that more than half of that audience (57%, or 46.9 million) is tuned to news/talk-formatted stations, according to Westwood One's analysis. “[Those] are the very outlets that Americans turn to in time of crisis and breaking local news,” noted Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard.
View the complete list of 141 local markets where AM radio is listened to by at least 20% of the radio audience HERE.