P1’s: You’ve Got a Friend

On Wednesday, we looked at the programming that makes listeners’ P1 stations “a lot better” than others. But  as part of this year’s P1 research, we wanted to dig deeper, probing into the relationship listeners have with the station they listen to most…

We asked them to imagine their P1 station AS A PERSON, and what (if anything) that person would be to them… a Parent? Spouse/Significant Other? Child? Extended Family? Close Friend? Casual Friend? Neighbor? Acquaintance? Boss? Co-Worker? Stranger? Teacher?

We gave them all of those choices (plus the opportunity to write in anything else) when we asked: What would [station listen to most] be TO YOU? That is, what would his/her relationship be to you? Pick the one word that best describes it.

Remember, this year’s P1 research is based on 1,104 online surveys of 18-64 P1’s  in the U.S. We inserted the actual names of the stations respondents listen to most (as entered by them) into the question, not the generic “station you listen to most.”

What we learned is, 63% of P1 listeners think of the station they listen to most as a friend…and for most of them, a close friend:

CLOSE FRIEND 37%
CASUAL FRIEND 26%
ACQUAINTANCE   9%
EXTENDED FAMILY   7%
NEIGHBOR   6%
SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER   .   4%
CO-WORKER   3%
STRANGER   3%
TEACHER   2%
PARENT   1%
BOSS   1%
CHILD   0%

Rock P1’s “friend” their station most, at 80%. A/C P1’s are next at 77%, but they see it more as a casual than a close friend. Gold/Classic P1’s are next, at 72% total.

Christian radio P1’s score lowest on the friend total…just 39%. But don’t take that as a lack of closeness. They score highest in thinking of their station as “extended family” (16%) and above-average for “spouse” (11%)…in other words, a relationship that’s even closer.

News/Talk P1’s, on the other hand, are somewhat more distant. They score highest in thinking of their station as an “acquaintance” (16%) or  “neighbor”  (15%). Still, a majority (53%) of them do think of their P1  as a friend…not far below average.

The fact that most P1’s think of the station they listen to most as a friend (when asked to personify it) tells us something important. It says that radio is more than a mere “appliance” delivering music and talk..it truly is an integral part of their lives.

 

 

P1 Station: Music and More

On Monday, we reported that nearly two-thirds of radio P1’s think the station they listen to most is “a lot better” than other stations. Today, we check out what makes it a lot better…

Of those who told us their P1 station is “a lot better than other stations” (as we reported on Monday, 64% of P1’s), we asked:

What are the three most important things that make [station you listen to most] a lot better than other stations? Please click a 1 by the most important reason, a 2 by the second most important reason and a 3 by the third most important reason. 

We gave them six choices. And remember, we inserted the actual name of the stations respondents entered as the one they listen to most into the question, not the generic “station you listen to most.”

Unsurprisingly, music is dominant as the most important reason making their station a lot better:

RANK 1: “MOST IMPORTANT”
MUSIC 61%
OVERALL ATTITUDE AND VIBE                . 11%
PEOPLE   9%
INFORMATION   9%
TALK SHOWS   9%
CONTESTS   2%

But that still leaves a sizable minority that doesn’t make music #1.

Among them, of course, are News/Talk P1’s (51% of them name talk shows, followed by 22% naming information) and Sports P1’s (29% information, with people and talk shows close behind tied at 27%).

But many music format P1’s name other factors. For example, 56% of  CHR P1’s rank music first…still their #1, but lowest among the music formats and leaving their remaining 44% for other factors.

Keep in mind that this does NOT mean that music is less important for CHR P1’s as a reason for listening, compared to other formats! The issue we’re probing is different — what makes the station you listen to most “a lot better” than others.

At the other extreme, music is by far the #1 differentiator for Gold/Classic P1’s (at 84%) and Rock P1’s (82%).

Beyond music, what stands out most is stations’ overall attitude and “vibe.” Personalities also come up strongly as a #2 reason, and of course they (along with music) contribute to stations’ attitude:

RANK  2: “SECOND MOST IMPORTANT”
OVERALL ATTITUDE AND VIBE 38%
PEOPLE 24%
MUSIC 14%
INFORMATION 12%
TALK SHOWS   8%
CONTESTS   4%

Rock P1’s are most into attitude as a #2 reason, at 60%. Among music format P1’s, A/C fans are lowest, at 20%.

Finally, people on the station are on top as the #3 reason:

RANK 3: “THIRD MOST IMPORTANT”
PEOPLE                  . 31%
OVERALL ATTITUDE AND VIBE               . 24%
INFORMATION 21%
TALK SHOWS   9%
CONTESTS   8%
MUSIC   7%

This bar chart puts it all together for 18-64’s P1’s overall.  The total length of each bar reflects the sum of mentions as the #1, #2 or #3 reason for thinking their station is a lot better than others.  The blue portion represents #1, the red #2 and the green #3:

chart v1.7

 

So, what’s the bottom line???  Sure, music is king for most formats. If  a music station’s music isn’t right for you, the other stuff isn’t going to matter in most cases.

But more than half rate their P1 station’s ATTITUDE and PEOPLE among the top three reasons why their station is better than others. And that tells us a station’s level of preference isn’t just about music…it’s music and more. It’s what can make the winning difference for one CHR station versus another, one Country station versus another, etc., etc.

Come back on Friday. We’ll get into station’s relationship with their P1’s.

P1 Station is “A Lot Better” Than Others

It’s the Pareto Principle, a.k.a. “the 80-20 rule.” Like, 80% of beer is consumed by the top 20% of beer drinkers — its core consumers. Similarly, in radio, there’s no doubt that stations’ P1’s — who listen to them most — are crucially important.

That’s why we’ve taken a “deep dive” into the mindset of radio P1’s annually since 2012. This year’s P1 study is based on 1,104 online surveys of 18-64 P1’s  in the U.S., conducted September 8-9.

One thing we looked at is the level of preference listeners have for their P1 station. What we learned is: Nearly two-thirds of P1’s have a strong preference for the station they “listen to most”:

In your opinion, is [st’n listen to most]…
A LOT BETTER than other stations?        . 64%
A LITTLE BETTER than other stations? 33%
NOT BETTER than other stations?   2%
Don’t know   2%

(Note that we inserted the actual names of the stations respondents entered as the one they listen to most into the question, not the generic “station you listen to most.”)

We found no significant demographic differences in listeners’ responses. Younger, older, men, women…all answered pretty much the same in line with the numbers above.

Analyzing by format does show a few meaningful differences, though…

Christian radio P1’s hold the highest level of preference for their station.  Eighty percent of them think it’s a lot better than others.

Gold/Classic P1’s are also above-average in their preference, with 72% saying their station is a lot better, and only 24% rating it just a little better.

Adult Contemporary P1’s have notably lower-than-average preference.  Only around half (53%) credit their station with being a lot better, while nearly half (47%) say it’s just a little better.

The other formats’ P1’s we analyzed — CHR, Country, News/Talk, Rock, Urban, Sports — are all around average in their level of preference.

As far as the differences we find…regarding Christian radio (taking nothing away from their quality), it’s tough to compete with faith!

I suspect A/C’s weakness on this measure may be related to Gold/Classic’s strength…

Many traditional, gold-based A/C’s have dropped their oldest non-currents — ’70s or even ’80s  — to emphasize newer gold. I’m not suggesting this strategy is always wrong. But every action has a potential reaction, and I find this move often leaves some of their listeners behind…not all “jumping ship,” but feeling less served, less satisfied.

And where would some go to get the older music they’re missing? Well, Gold/Classic formats surely fill the void. This might in part explain the recent ratings surge of exclusively non-current pop and rock formats.

Back to the “big picture”…overall, radio is serving its P1 listeners well. Wednesday, we’ll begin to get into what makes their P1 stations better.

 

Overwhelming Majority Would Miss FM

If you want to evaluate just how valuable something is (or would be) to you, imagine it gone. Say you’re torn between two job offers. Which one would you feel worse about missing out on…that’s the one you really want more. So, how valuable is RADIO to listeners?

To find out, we took the “how much would you miss” approach in this year’s P1 study — an online survey of 1,289 18-64 radio listeners in the U.S., conducted September 8-9. Among many issues (which we’ll be reviewing in upcoming weeks), we asked:

How much would you miss FM radio if it were to go away and no longer be available to you?

More than 90% would miss FM, with nearly half missing it “a lot.” Only 7% would not miss it at all:

FM RADIO:
MISS A LOT 46%
MISS SOMEWHAT 29%
MISS A LITTLE 18%
NOT MISS AT ALL        .   7%
Don’t know   1%

Demographically, 45-54’s would miss FM most (55% a lot), 18-24’s least (31% a lot). But even among 18-24’s, only 13% would not miss FM at all. Women would miss FM a bit more than men…they’re at 48% “miss a lot” versus men’s 43%.

And from a format perspective, Country P1’s — those who name a Country station as the one they  “listen to most” — would miss FM most. Sixty-two percent of them would miss FM a lot, while a mere 2% wouldn’t miss it at all.

We asked the same question about AM radio, and it doesn’t fare nearly as well…half of 18-64 listeners would not miss it at all, while only 11% would miss it a lot:

AM RADIO:
MISS A LOT 11%
MISS SOMEWHAT 17%
MISS A LITTLE 18%
NOT MISS AT ALL        . 51%
Don’t know   2%

By far, News/Talk P1’s would miss AM most…32% would miss it a lot, 38% somewhat, and only 19% wouldn’t miss it at all. Also not surprisingly, they would miss FM least.

The findings for AM are predictable, but what we learned about FM is encouraging. Listeners’ responses to the hypothetical — How would you feel if FM went away? — tells us the hypothetical won’t become reality anytime soon.

Reality 93%, Perception Much Lower

Neilsen’s latest “Total Audience Report” reveals that radio reaches 93% of adults 18 and older. But when I tell people I work in radio, I’m sometimes told “No one listens to radio anymore.” Ugh! It made me wonder about consumers’ actual perception of radio listening…

So, we asked them:

Think about the radio stations that broadcast on FM radio and AM radio. Many of them can also be listened to online or using smartphone apps. Around what percentage of Americans 18 and older would you guess listen to FM or AM radio stations during an average week? 

And based on 704 telephone interviews with 18-64’s in the U.S. conducted  July 1-5, their estimate of the percentage that listen to FM or AM during a typical week averages…

Are ya ready???

53%

In other words, consumers grossly underestimate radio listening! Fewer than 10% give radio credit for reaching 90% or more, and fewer than 20% think it reaches 80% or more.

The biggest single response – 12% – is that radio reaches only half of adults. One-third think it reaches fewer than half.  And 10% tell us that they don’t have any idea about radio’s reach. (At least they didn’t get it wrong.)

Less than 2% actually thinks no one listens to radio anymore — giving a response of zero percent. I’d guess those who say that are engaging in hyperbole. An assertion that everyone listens is much closer to reality, but far from conventional wisdom.

Clearly, our medium has a PR problem. “Perception is reality,” we know. So radio’s reality is that it’s great at marketing clients’ goods and services, but has fallen short marketing itself.

 

’90s Sticking Point for Classic Rock

Yesterday. we looked at Classic Rock listeners’ definition of the format’s music in terms of the big picture — what makes a Classic Rock song or band “classic”? Today, we’ll get into which performers are Classic Rock, in their opinion, and which aren’t…

But, a quick review: Our analysis is based on a breakout of 320 Classic Rock listeners from a larger online sample we collected earlier this year. We learned that quality — music that stands the test of time — is a key aspect defining Classic Rock. But first and foremost, Classic Rock is defined by erathe ’70s, the ’80s and the ’60s, in that order.  The ’90s??? Not so much.

To further explore “What’s Classic?” we asked respondents to evaluate 160 different bands or solo performers. We asked them: “Are they CLASSIC ROCK, or NOT?”

That’s a lot of questions. Even then, our list was hardly definitive for Classic Rock.  We certainly included many of the obvious choices — The Who, The Stones, The Doors, etc., etc.  But we also included others that were quite OBVIOUSLY NOT Classic Rock, to keep respondents awake and engaged on both sides of the issue.

And we especially wanted to explore ’90s bands that a number of Classic Rock stations have adopted, seeking to evolve the format.

Here’s the top ten percent…the most unquestionably Classic Rock bands:

% naming this band Classic. Rock:
AEROSMITH       95%
QUEEN       95%
LED ZEPPELIN       93%
ROLLING STONES       93%
PINK FLOYD       92%
AC/DC       91%
EAGLES       90%
ALICE COOPER       90%
WHO       90%
DOORS       89%
JOURNEY       89%
ZZ TOP       89%
FLEETWOOD MAC       88%
KISS       88%
LYNYRD SKYNYRD       87%
BLACK SABBATH       87%

I’m a bit taken aback seeing Kiss and Alice Cooper so high here, since I see them more as “showmen” than performers whose music “stands the test of time.” Surprised to see Black Sabbath rank so high too. But enough of my opinions…

Let’s look at the ’90s…bands we tested that became famous or had their biggest success in that decade:

% naming this band Classic Rock:
PEARL JAM      45%
NIRVANA      39%
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS      38%
BLACK CROWES      37%
ALICE IN CHAINS      35%
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS      28%
HOOTIE &THE BLOWFISH      26%
SMASHING PUMPKINS      23%
SOUNDGARDEN      21%
BUSH      17%

Now, these scores are not at the bottom in terms of “Classic cred”…2000s artists like Incubus, Muse and Paramore are, in single digits. (For the full list, click CLASSIC ROCK OR NOT — 160 Performers Ranked.)

Still, fewer than half of Classic Rock listeners think the best of these ’90s bands qualify as Classic Rock. Which doesn’t necessarily mean “Don’t play Pearl Jam on your Classic Rock station,” but it does exemplify what I referred to yesterday as the ’90s “sticking point.”

Of course, this doesn’t at all suggest that all ’90s music is potentially problematic for Classic Rock stations! For example, 95% of Classic Rock listeners consider Aerosmith Classic Rock…topping our list. So it’s fair to assume that “Livin’ On the Edge” and other Aerosmith hits of the ’90s pose no problem.

No, its the Alt/Grunge ’90s — examplified by Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, STP, etc. — that represents the point of resistance for Rock stations positioned as Classic.

I’ve been looking at this “Grunge on Classic Rock” issue in various ways for years now. And I suspect that if we had used this exact research approach 15 years ago, the results wouldn’t have been all that different. The early ’90s alternative has long been a 50/50 proposition for Classic Rockers. It’s not necessarily that they don’t like the music…it’s that at least half just don’t consider it Classic Rock!

This makes evolution of the format tricky.

Then again, maybe Classic Rock doesn’t need to evolve! After all, it’s playing music its listeners see as “standing the test of time”…music that sounds “every bit as good now as it did decades ago.” Given that, the fact it goes back as much as 40 years doesn’t matter, at least for now.

Era Defines Classic Rock Most

On Tuesday, we shared positive findings based on a breakout of 320 Classic Rock listeners from a larger online sample we collected earlier this year. An overwhelming majority agree that Classic Rock sounds every bit as good now as it did decades ago. The vast majority disagree that they’re “tired of listening to Classic Rock.”

But even more than quality and longevity, we find that era is crucial to Classic Rock listeners’ definition of the format…

When we asked them to define Classic Rock in their own words, their top five responses all relate to era…

How do you define CLASSIC ROCK? What makes a rock group or rock song “classic,” in your opinion?

’70s (Rock) 36%
’80s (Rock) 27%
’60s (Rock) 22%
(Older) Rock 19%
Old/From Past/Years Ago            . 16%    .
Stands the Test of Time   9%
25-30+ Years Old   6%
20+ Years Ago   6%
’90s (Rock)   5%
Good/Great/Awesome   4%
Grew Up With It   3%
10+ Years Old   3%
Guitar-Based   3%
Quality/Real   2%
’50s (Rock)   2%
Familiar/Well-Known   2%
Other 28%
Don’t know/No response   1%

(Note that comments can encompass more than one category. That’s why the percentages add up to more than 100%.)

To its listeners, Classic Rock is — more than anything else — ’70s, ’80s and ’60s rock, in that order. Note how low the ’90s score by comparison…volunteered by only 5%.

And look at the level of agreement to the #2 statement on this list: The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’70s. It averages 3.0 on a 4-point scale, where 1 means “disagree strongly” and 4 means “agree strongly”…the mid-point being 2.5:

How much do you agree or disagree? (4=Agree Strongly)
Classic Rock sounds every bit as good now as it did decades ago.           . 3.5     .
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’70s. 3.0
You like to keep up with what’s new and happening in music. 2.9
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’80s. 2.8
A song doesn’t have to be old to be a classic. 2.7
Today’s rock sucks. 2.6
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’60s. 2.6
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’90s. 2.3
You’re not as interested in ANY kind or era of rock as you used to be.   . 2.1
Classic Rock fans are stuck in the past. 2.0
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the last 15 years. 1.8
You’ve lost interest in listening to ANY kind of music on radio. 1.7
You’re tired of listening to Classic Rock. 1.5

We repeated this for other eras, and again the hierarchy is ’70s > ’80s > ’60s, and all way ahead of ’90s. (Don’t even bother thinking about the last 15 years!) Here’s how the percentages stack up:

The greatest rock was recorded in:. the ’60s . the ’70s . the ’80s . the ’90s .  
AGREE STRONGLY        17%        28%        22%          8%
AGREE SOMEWHAT        29%        47%        39%        32%
DISAGREE SOMEWHAT        39%        17%        29%        36%
DISAGREE STRONGLY        10%          4%          6%        20%
Don’t know          5%          4%          3%          4%

The further we get from the ’70s, the worse music is, in Classic Rockers’ opinion.  And a majority agree with the strong statement…

Today’s rock sucks.            .
AGREE STRONGLY 19%
AGREE SOMEWHAT 34%
DISAGREE SOMEWHAT 33%
DISAGREE STRONGLY 11%
Don’t know  3%

Now, check all of the agree/disagree responses and you’ll note some contradictions in Classic Rockers’ attitudes…

For one, most (70%!) agree that You like to keep up with what’s new and happening in music. Why bother, if it sucks? To confirm their opinion that it still sucks?

And most (62%) agree that  A song doesn’t have to be old to be a classic. But based on all of their other responses, it seems that a song does have to be old…like around 25 or more years old. (It takes time to “stand the test of time,” after all.)

Hey, Classic Rock listeners are people, and just like other people (even research guys!), their thoughts can be contradictory at times.

But here’s the main point: Even now, when ’90s rock is 20+ years old, it represents a sticking point…a challenge for Classic Rock stations if they seek to evolve their formats.

Tomorrow, we’ll explore this further by looking at Classic Rock listeners’ assessments of 160 different performers from various eras and whether they are or are not “classic.”

 

Classic Rock: Tasty, Not Crispy

When the Classic Rock format launched in the ’80s, skeptics said it wouldn’t last…that its music would be burnt out quickly. Now here we are decades later, and the format is still going strong!

Inside Radio commented recently: “Classic rock shattered its PPM ratings record in a pair of key demos in February, underlining the timeless nature of the music that makes up its library. Never mind that much of that music is 40 years old.”

For a while now, I’ve wanted to take a closer look at Classic Rock listeners, so I made it a part (the biggest part, actually) of an online survey we fielded earlier this year, about radio’s “approval rating.” That survey was based on 1,190 18-64’s. For this one, we analyzed the 320 who listen to at least one Classic Rock station, and the 91 of them who named a Classic Rock station as the one they “listen to most.”

It’s important to note that we did NOT base this on those who claimed to listen to Classic Rock! Listeners’ perceptions of  formats are very different from ours, and often differ from our (industry) perspective. Instead, we looked at what stations they listen to and then — based on where they live — verified whether they really, truly are Classic Rock (a time-consuming exercise, as you might imagine).

One way we studied Classic Rock listeners was to probe their agreement (or lack of it) to a number of statements. The most-agreed-to statement: Classic rock sounds every bit as good now as it did decades ago. It averages 3.5 on a 4-point scale, where 1 means “disagree strongly” and 4 means “agree strongly”…the mid-point being 2.5:

How much do you agree or disagree? (4=Agree Strongly)
Classic Rock sounds every bit as good now as it did decades ago.  . 3.5     .
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’70s. 3.0
You like to keep up with what’s new and happening in music. 2.9
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’80s. 2.8
A song doesn’t have to be old to be a classic. 2.7
Today’s rock sucks. 2.6
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’60s. 2.6
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the ’90s. 2.3
You’re not as interested in ANY kind or era of rock as you used to be.   . 2.1
Classic Rock fans are stuck in the past. 2.0
The greatest rock of all time was recorded in the last 15 years. 1.8
You’ve lost interest in listening to ANY kind of music on radio. 1.7
You’re tired of listening to Classic Rock. 1.5

Let’s look at what that 3.5 means in percentage terms:

Classic Rock sounds every bit. as good now as it did decades ago.
AGREE STRONGLY 64%
AGREE SOMEWHAT 26%
DISAGREE SOMEWHAT   6%
DISAGREE STRONGLY   2%
Don’t know   0%

So, nearly two-thirds of Classic Rock listeners strongly agree that Classic Rock sounds every bit as good today. (And, by the way, that number rises to 77% among Classic Rock P1’s.) This is what “standing the test of time” is all about!

Now, here’s what they disagree with most:

You’re tired of listening to. Classic Rock.
AGREE STRONGLY        3%
AGREE SOMEWHAT        7%
DISAGREE SOMEWHAT      28%
DISAGREE STRONGLY      60%
Don’t know        2%

And among Classic Rock P1’s75% disagree strongly.

We also see variance by age group:

You’re tired of listening to classic rock.  . 18-24   . 25-34   . 35-44   . 45-54   . 55-64   .
AGREE STRONGLY   3%   8%   2%   3%   0%
AGREE SOMEWHAT 12% 11%   6%   7%   2%
DISAGREE SOMEWHAT 29% 32% 34% 22% 25%
DISAGREE STRONGLY 55% 46% 52% 68% 73%
Don’t know   0%   3%   6%   1%   0%

Older Classic Rock listeners disagree most that they’re tired of it.  (And they’re the ones who’ve been listening to it longest!) But even among the most jaded Classic Rockers — 25-34’s — the vast majority disagree that they’re tired of it.

So here we are, four decades later, and Classic Rock still isn’t burned out. Amazing!

But the format does have a potential challenge. Because timelessness isn’t the #1 defining characteristic of Classic Rock.

More on that Thursday.

 

Fewer Than Half Approve of AM

On Tuesday, we revealed FM radio’s approval rating — a glowing 83%.  Today, we reveal where AM radio stands in the hearts and minds of Americans…

Based on an online survey of 1,190 18-64 year olds, conducted from January 21-23, 44% approve of AM:

How much do you approve  
or disapprove about the job  
AM radio is doing these days?       .
STRONGLY APPROVE 13%
SOMEWHAT APPROVE 31%
SOMEWHAT DISAPPROVE 14%
STRONGLY DISAPPROVE   5%
Don’t know 37%

A major reason AM’s approval is little more than half of FM’s is that AM simply isn’t “on the radar” for a high percentage…37% have no opinion about AM one way or the other (versus only 5% for FM). That in itself is a big problem.

And even though fewer have any opinion about AM radio (leaving fewer to approve or disapprove), its disapproval is still higher — 19%, versus FM’s 12%.

Among those who do approve of AM, its information is the main reason why, followed closely by Talk radio:

Why do you approve of  
the job that AM radio is doing?               
NEWS/WEATHER/TRAFFIC/INFO 17%
TALK SHOWS/RADIO 14%
JUST LIKE IT/DOES GOOD JOB 13%
SPORTS (COVERAGE/TALK)   8%
MUSIC POSITIVE   7%
INFORMATIVE   5%
IT’S OK/NOT BAD   5%
LIKE SPECIFIC STATION(S)   3%
LOCAL   3%
ENTERTAINING   3%
VARIETY OF PROGRAMMING   3%
Other 29%
Don’t know/Don’t listen/No answer 11%
Multiple responses permitted.

Among those who disapprove, poor reception and dislike of Talk radio essentially tie for the #1 reason:

Why do you disapprove of  
the job that AM radio is doing?               
BAD RECEPTION/STATIC 18%
DISLIKE TALK RADIO 17%
BORING 12%
NO/FEW GOOD STATIONS 11%
JUST DO/DISLIKE IT   7%
MUSIC NEGATIVE   6%
OUT-OF-DATE/DYING   6%
TOO MUCH TALK   5%
TOO POLITICAL/PARTISAN/BIASED   5%
CONSERVATIVE/RIGHT WING   3%
TOO MANY COMMERCIALS   3%
NOT ENOUGH MUSIC   3%
TOO NEGATIVE/DIVISIVE/HATEFUL   2%
Other 24%
Don’t know/Don’t listen/No answer 10%
Multiple responses permitted.

Some of AM’s other negatives likely derive from Talk radio. For example, many of those who say AM has “too much talk” may have Talk radio in mind, but if they didn’t say “talk shows” or “talk radio,” we categorized them separately. Perceptions that AM is too partisan or negative may also be motivated by Talk radio.  So, Talk radio is undoubtedly an asset for AM, but also contributing to its disapproval.

Still, we think AM’s biggest problem isn’t disapproval, but rather its “nonentity” status for a major portion of 18-64’s.

Wayyy Better Than Congress and the Prez…

We hear about approval ratings all the time on the news…usually about how low they are for politicians or political institutions.  So I thought: What about the institution of radio?

So, we conducted an online survey of 18-64 year olds in the U.S. from January 21-23, asking about approval (or lack of it) for FM radio and for AM radio. Here’s what we learned about FM from a sample of 1,190 respondents.

FM radio’s approval rating is a whopping 83%.  And 27% strongly approve of FM, while a mere 1% strongly disapprove:

How much do you approve  
or disapprove about the job  
FM radio is doing these days?       .
STRONGLY APPROVE 27%
SOMEWHAT APPROVE 56%
SOMEWHAT DISAPPROVE 11%
STRONGLY DISAPPROVE   1%
Don’t know   5%

If respondents approved or disapproved, we asked them to tell us why, in their own words. Categorizing their responses, music they like is by far the #1 reason for approving:

Why do you approve of  
the job that FM radio is doing?             .
MUSIC POSITIVE 38%
INFORMATIVE/INFORMATION 14%
VARIETY (of stations, music, info…) 13%
JUST LIKE IT/DOES GOOD JOB   9%
ENTERTAINING   9%
LIKE FAVORITE STATION(S)   5%
IT’S OK/NOT BAD/NO PROBLEM   4%
LOCAL/COMMUNITY SERVICE   3%
TALK/DISCUSSIONS   2%
IT’S FREE   2%
INTERESTING/GOOD PROGRAMS   2%
GOOD QUALITY SOUND   2%
Other 28%
Don’t know/No answer   6%
Multiple responses permitted.

Among the minority who disapprove of FM, music they dislike is also the #1 reason why:

Why do you disapprove of  
the job that FM radio is doing?             
MUSIC NEGATIVE 26%
NOT ENOUGH VARIETY/CHOICES 18%
REPETITIVE MUSIC 18%
QUALITY OF TALK 14%
TOO MANY COMMERCIALS 12%
CRUDE/DIRTY TALK/MUSIC 12%
NOT ENOUGH MUSIC   7%
TOO MUCH TALK   5%
(TOO MUCH) TALK RADIO   3%
BIAS/PROPAGANDA   2%
NOT LOCAL ENOUGH   2%
Other 20%
Don’t know/No answer   5%
Multiple responses permitted.

Check here later this week…we’ll get into AM radio’s approval rating.