Tuesday, August 4, 2015


by Don Keith N4KC

Here we go again.  One of the over-the-air-radio trade publications has yet another (with apologies to Ray Stevens) "Everything is Beautiful" article.  Those who follow this blog know that I--a former broadcaster, audience researcher, and station owner--believe that traditional over-the-air radio is in serious trouble, partly because of rapid technological change that has altered how people get music and news, but also because big radio owners believe they can cut their way to prosperity, or at least to some kind of good news to tell analysts and institutional stockholders so they continue to buy their stock.  And do it while not giving potential listeners compelling content that will keep them listening.  And buying what their sponsors are selling.

So here is the latest pronouncement that makes me red in the face as I go, "Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!"  Under the headline "Radio's Reach Hits an All-time High," INSIDE RADIO proclaims:

Radio’s national audience hit an all-time high for the second year in a row in the second quarter. Some 245 million Americans age 12 and older used radio in a given week during the three months ending June 30, according to Nielsen’s Audio Today report.

Yippee!  Doomsayers such as yours truly are certainly wrong.  More people listened to radio for at least five minutes in a week in Q2 2015 than ever before!  Hurray and hosannah!  Maybe people are not tuning away to all those other audio sources out there, talking and texting on their smart phones instead of listening to "the best of the 80s, 90s and today with fewer commercials on Power 99.5," or simply turning off their radios and watching more video.

Of course, I bet if we had data to prove it, we would also learn that more people changed the oil in their lawnmowers, jaywalked, blew their noses, bought a six-pack of beer, or went to sleep in their recliners watching YouTube.

That's because there are MORE PEOPLE.  Millions more people than there has ever been in the USA.  Certainly millions more in Q2 2015 than in Q2 2014.  Census estimates say we gain about 2.5 million people every year.  We have over 321 million now that we know about, not counting quite a few who are illegal so don't get counted...except by Nielsen.

If fewer people year-over-year listened to radio for at least five minutes in a statistical week, I'd say that would be catastrophic.  But ballyhooing the fact that more folks spent at least five minutes with over-the-air radio is nothing to crow about either.

No comments: