News/talk stations saw a listening increase during the hours before and following the reading of the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer found guilty of the murder of George Floyd.
In the two-hour window (3-5pm) around the 4:05pm reading of the verdict on April 20, news formatted listening in Minneapolis increased by 143% for Adults 18+.
Nielsen’s News Horizontal team analyzed radio listening from ethnically diverse New York to the more homogenous Salt Lake City to gauge interest in the culmination of the trial in the death of Floyd, which led to nationwide protests for racial equality last spring. “Across the top five markets and Minneapolis, where George Floyd was living, there was a dramatic increase in news listenership during the hours of the verdict reading,” Charlene Polite Corley, VP Diverse Insights & Partnerships writes in a blog post.
In Salt Lake City, news formatted listening increased by 125%. Chicago saw an increase of 75%, New York 60%, Dallas was up 37.5% and Los Angeles saw an increase of 11% for news formatted listening.
Listening to formats outside of news/talk also saw increases during the two-hour window, with all market listening up by 21% in Dallas, 20% in Minneapolis, 15% in Salt Lake City, while New York and Chicago were up by 9% and 8%, respectively.
Corley also provides recommendations on how radio can continue serving the community’s desire for information and news surrounding sociopolitical events. To avoid listener burnout, she says “news organizations must ensure the stories of victims and those fighting for them are humanizing and not sensationalized for clickbait.” Another angle is to extend coverage beyond tragic events “to include better representation of Black people as a whole—with their joys, successes and cultural nuances.”
As the country begins to move about following the darkest days of the pandemic, “mobile news apps, social media, podcasts and radio will play a larger role in both notifying the public and continuing the conversations around racial equality,” Corley notes.
Podcasts are another way to continue the conversation about, Corley says. “During the pandemic, from May to October 2020, there was an 89% surge in listening for new news podcast series among the general population,” she writes. “At the same time, the number of African Americans consuming news podcasts overall more than doubled (+104%) and Hispanic listenership increased by 59%.”