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Research: Radio Personalities' Connection To Listeners Generates Advertiser Impact.

Taken together, findings from several research studies, including Jacobs Media's recently-released annual Techsurvey, show the strong bond between radio or podcast hosts and listeners, and how that bond drives advertiser success.

An analysis of these studies in the latest edition of Westwood One's weekly blog notes that 60% of the respondents of Jacobs' Techsurvey – conducted in January and February of 2023 among 30,000 P1 station listeners in the U.S. – say “DJs/hosts/shows” is their main reason for listening to AM/FM radio. That makes it the most-mentioned programming-related reason, ahead of “hear[ing] favorite songs/artists.”

In addition, Jacobs found the younger the AM/FM radio listener, the more likely personalities are the main reason for listening, with 65% of Gen Zs or Millennials in that camp vs. 63% of Gen Xers and 56% of Baby Boomers. Techsurvey trends also suggest the listener connection to local personalities is stronger than it's ever been, with 57% agreeing that “one of AM/FM radio's primary advantages is its local feel,” up from 2021 or 2022's 49% and 2018's 43%.

“Across all of the demographics advertisers care about, radio talent is really the main reason folks are listening to radio, and radio personalities provide that local feel to radio stations,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “Personalities, whether on the radio or in podcasts, have an incredible connection with their audience, and that in turn generates incredible impact for advertisers.”

The blog also cites findings from a Cumulus-commissioned 2020 MARU/Matchbox survey of nearly 1,600 respondents showing that AM/FM listeners develop loyal relationships with personalities driven by comedy and connection to their community, where nearly half (46%) believe their favorite personalities are opinion leaders that they trust. Hosts drove listener action, with 63% saying in the past year they talked to family or friends about things heard on their shows, and three in ten saying they searched for a product or service recommended by the AM/FM radio personality.

A MAGNA/Vox Media survey of more than 2,000 weekly podcast listeners showed 75% of participants said podcast hosts' influence matters most, compared to social media influencers (15%) or TV/movie celebrities (10%). What's more, nearly eight in ten (79%) agree that podcasts are superior to content on social media, 90% agree that “listening to podcasts made (me) more open to new perspectives and topics,” and 68% said they “have a deep connection with their favorite podcasters.”

Making note of these findings, along with those from an IAB study where 71% consumers said they concentrated a lot when listening to podcasts vs. 44% for checking social media, Bouvard says, “Podcast hosts convey trust with authenticity, and they provide insights and knowledge, while social media influences and TV movie stars are basically just famous. If a consumer sees something as superior in content, they pay more attention. And they're more attentive and imagine the impact of your ad with all of that attentiveness.”

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