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Pew Research Center Provides Key Facts About Radio Listening In The U.S.

Yesterday (Aug. 20) was National Radio Day and the Pew Research Center used the occasion to provide a snapshot of the industry in the U.S.

First and foremost, the firm notes that approximately eight-in-ten Americans (12+) listen to broadcast radio weekly. Weekly listening to radio has remained relatively steady in the last two years after dropping slightly in 2020. In 2022, 82% of Americans ages 12 and older listened to terrestrial radio in a given week, Pew Research notes, citing Nielsen data. Weekly listenership dropped from 89% in 2019 to 83% in 2020, a decline that coincided with the beginning of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak.

Radio is a source of news for many Americans, with nearly half (47%) of U.S. adults saying they get news from radio “at least sometimes,” according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey. The figure has remained constant in recent years. In the same survey, only 7% of U.S. adults say they prefer radio to other platforms for getting news.

White and Black Americans are equally likely to get news at least sometimes from radio (48% each), while 42% of Hispanic adults and 37% of Asian adults say the same. Adults 50-64 are the most likely to get news at least sometimes from radio, with just over half (55%) saying they do this; 48% of those ages 30-49, 46% of those 65+, and 35% of those 18-29 say the same.

One in five Americans, or 20%, say they “often get local news” from listening to their hometown radio station. These findings are from a 2018 Center survey. At the time, that was below the share of U.S. adults who say they often get local news from TV stations (38%) but comparable to the share who often get local news from daily newspapers (17%).

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from BIA Advisory Services, in 2022, average revenue for stations in the all-news format was $17.8 million in 2022 – up from $15.9 million in 2020 but well below the $21 million recorded in 2019, before the pandemic. (The BIA Advisory Services database contains revenue data during these years for only 15 of the 27 all-news stations. Therefore, only those stations are included in these averages.)

Another finding in the news format reveals that most journalists feel “highly connected” to their audience. Approximately six-in-ten radio and podcast journalists (59%) said they felt extremely or very connected to their listeners. That was significantly higher than the 45% of print journalists, 44% of TV journalists, and 43% of online journalists who said the same.

Last year the research group looked at the audience of public radio, including NPR and PRX, and found that it has declined in recent years. In 2022, the top 20 NPR-affiliated public radio stations by listenership had an average weekly audience of about eight million, down 10% from 2021. Looking at NPR programming across all stations that carry it, weekly terrestrial broadcast listenership declined by 6% between 2021 and 2022. The broadcast audience for PRX declined to about 6.7 million average weekly listeners, a 24% drop from 2021.

The share of Americans who listen to podcasts has increased over the last decade. As of 2023, 42% of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to a podcast in the past month, according to Edison Research’s “The Infinite Dial” report. The Center notes that the percentage has remained relatively constant since 2020, when 37% had listened to a podcast in the past month. Looking back, in 2013 just 12% of Americans listened to a podcast in the last month.

Roughly half of Americans (51%) say they have listened to a podcast in the past year, including one-in-five who report listening to podcasts at least a few times a week, according to a 2022 Center survey. Among U.S. podcast listeners, two-thirds say that news is discussed on the podcasts they listen to. Younger adults are more likely than older adults to listen to podcasts. Two-thirds (67%) of Americans ages 18 to 29 have listened to a podcast in the past 12 months, compared with just 28% of those 65 and older.

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