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P1s May Be Harder To Find, But More Listeners Say They Feel 'Connected' To Stations.


In a competitive-like-never-before environment for radio, growing a radio station's P1s – those listeners spending more time with that station, vs. all others – may be a greater challenge, says Jacobs Media Strategies President and founder Fred Jacobs in the company's blog. At the same time, however, stations should take heart in knowing that since COVID, more listeners report feeling a sense of connection with a station, and those listeners skew younger and more female.


“Today, loyalty is a more transient quality, seemingly out of reach for today's radio stations,” Jacobs says. “[but] brands that have cultivated personalities and committed to taking a more local stance are in decidedly better shape today. Many have palpable loyalty from audience members who feel an emotional bond with a radio station, a characteristic they most likely won't feel with Spotify and many of the other digital attractions fans can choose from.”


The proof is in the results of Jacobs' just-released Techsurvey 2023, showing that 42% of listeners to the more-than-400 participating stations strongly agree with the statement, “I really feel a sense of connection to the station that sent me this survey.” That's not only a lift from 2022's 37%, but a significant gain from 2020's 29%. Additionally, the share is higher for Gen X listeners (44%), Millenials (45%) and Gen Zs (48%), as well as higher for female (47%) vs. male listeners (39%).


Clearly, the pandemic played a major role in these increases, Jacobs says. “Radio stations that provided accurate and relevant information during the worst days, weeks, and months of this ordeal may have had an advantage. But stations that found a way to make its listeners have hope, while elevating their moods may have enjoyed an even greater edge. It is the only way to explain why a sense of connectedness to a radio station has steadily increased these past few years.”


As for what drives the emotional bond listeners may feel with stations, Jacobs' cites the Techsurvey results when listeners are asked the main reasons they listen. Most notable are the near-half of respondents (45%) saying radio “keeps me company,” 37% listening to get in a better mood, and 31% who listen to escape the pressures of everyday life. “The best radio stations deliver on these emotional benefits,” he says. “They also create habits – the good kind – that make a radio station and/or a morning show a part of one's daily routine.”


Further complicating radio's pursuit of P1s are the results of a study cited by Jacobs finding that station loyalty doesn't necessarily correlate with regular use. “That finding calls into question the validity of the P1 metric used as a measure of loyalty,” he says. “One can listen to a station on most weekdays but not feel a true connection to it, any more than you're loyal to a utility like the power or water companies.”


While that study's focus is on news media more than personality-based radio, Jacobs notes that, as was the case in the Techsurvey results, “having emotional connections seemed to be most meaningful in consumers who feel a sense of loyalty to them.” He also notes that the analysis of the study also muses on how radio brands can “tap into the deep (and complex) feelings of their loyal audiences to develop mutually beneficial relationships.”


It all comes down to radio doing what it naturally does best to win in the current environment, Jacobs says. “Before the Internet, you just had to vanquish the other stations in your market. But thanks to the 'long tail' of media competition, radio now competes with digital streaming platforms, podcasts, satellite radio, YouTube, gaming, and myriad other viable choices any audience member can make at the push of a button, the swipe of a screen, or by opening an app. The brands that will survive the digital apocalypse will not only deliver great personalities, a sense of place, and a great user experience, they will also deliver the emotional goods.”

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