A year of research in the field – if you will – has produced positive results for agricultural radio, including farm-related reports and commentary, weather, and national and world market news.
Four waves of surveys in 2021 and 2022, conducted by Aimpoint Research for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting among 800 respondents in all U.S. regions, in the farming or ranching business – defined as primary or shared-decision makers on a farm with income of $100,000 or more – show that 74% listen to ag radio five or more days a week. Average time spent listening is just over an hour, with listenership highest in early morning hours.
“Studies like this prove how much farmers pay attention to what is on their radio dial,” NAFB Executive Director Tom Brand says. “There got to be a perception that farmers were only listening to the radio when they're planting and harvesting, and we knew that wasn't the case. [While] we see advertising dollars going in many different directions, and we're supportive that there's a media mix, we also know how reach and frequency makes such a difference in reaching the farmer audience, and that radio should remain a part of that mix.”
To that end, the NAFB has been a key player in the fight to keep AM radio in cars. “I've asked our members to be engaged in that process – to talk about it on the radio, post on social media, and encourage lawmakers to vote in favor of moving that bill forward – sharing the message that AM radio is reaching a rural audience that is largely underserved,” Brand says. “We know when it comes to emergency information, it doesn't matter what your zip code is. Listeners in rural areas don't necessarily have consistent access to cellular or broadband, or it may not be reliable enough. We know that AM has continued to deliver.”
The survey also found, perhaps surprisingly, that younger listeners edged out older for time spent tuned to agricultural broadcasts. “The perception is older Americans would listen the most, but what we found was that the grandson is listening four minutes per day more than grandpa, and two minutes more than dad,” Brand says. “It helps us tell the story that agricultural radio is as pertinent, if maybe not a bit more important, to younger generations than what advertisers may perceive. The relationship that they've got by listening to a farm broadcaster and to that radio station means a whole lot more to them than just reading what the market price is on a computer screen.”
Brand feels the results prove both the effectiveness of agricultural programming and the value of these listeners. “[It's about] how loyal this audience is, how much they shape their day around the programming that's available for them to be able to listen to,” he says. “They see these broadcasters as credible, accurate, and timely.”