Local radio surges during pandemic.

Posted by Tim Clarke on April 23, 2020


COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the way that we all consume media. As each state continues to usher in its own unique set of social distancing guidelines, local communities have banded together to stay updated, informed, and actionable during this global pandemic. At Cox Media Group, we are interested in how this new sense of community fueled by micro-level legislation and health care was impacting the way people consumed local audio.

We recently surveyed 11,301 listeners to uncover what role local radio was playing in their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. A massive 94% of consumers have listened to local radio since the outbreak began while one-third say they have listened more. Not only are consumers turning to local stations for relevant information regarding the pandemic, but they’re doing it outside of their cars. In the past, commute hours have made up a significant portion of listenership. In today’s ecosystem, 32% of consumers used a local radio station app, 29% used a desktop or a laptop, and 36% have used a smart speaker to stream a local station.

Social distancing guidelines have changed how consumers are listening to radio stations and streaming content. On a broader scale, these changes are reshaping customer journeys and defining the way that consumers are digesting content during their daily lives. What devices are people utilizing to consume radio and streaming audio content? How has the novel coronavirus changed the way consumers listen to music and radio programming? And how does this all tie into the changes to work that have taken place due to micro and macro guidelines and legislation?

Read the official press release below

CMG Multi-Market Radio Impact Study Underscores Continued Strength of Radio Amidst COVID-19
Study Finds Radio Continues to Play to Its Strengths while ‘Local’ Soars as Top Differentiator

ATLANTA – APRIL 23, 2020 Cox Media Group (CMG) today announced the findings of a multi-market research study that measured the impact of radio and other audio content amidst COVID-19. The study, conducted from March 30, 2020, through April 3, 2020, was fielded online with audiences in a wide variety of demographics, ranging from 18 to 54 years of age. The study yielded more than 11,000 responses.

The study found that one-third of participants are listening to radio more since the Coronavirus outbreak. As importantly, is what they are listening to. Since the outbreak, 94% of participants indicated that they have tuned into local radio more than any other streaming service for music, talk and information, demonstrating that as radio continues to evolve, ‘local’ ranks as one of the most important differentiators.

Delivery matters, as well, with consumers having more and more options to move from one device to another – radio just being one of the many devices in their daily life. Since the outbreak, audiences are listening, more or the same amount of time with a smartphone (81%), desktop/laptop (67%), radio station app (57%), car radio (55%) and home radio (54%) almost evenly split, a tablet (48%) or a smart speaker (36%).

And as always, content is key regardless of the delivery platform. The topics listeners are most interested in receiving from their local radio stations include feel-good stories, things to make them laugh and local virus updates.

According to the survey, 68% of participants experienced a change in job status since the outbreak of COVID-19. Of those who noted the change, the greatest impact was in working from home (34%), working fewer hours (26%) or being furloughed/having lost their job (24%).

“Audience engagement is very strong by any metric you look at,” said CMG Radio VP, Audience and Content Tim Clarke. “Listeners depend on our radio brands more than ever for local information, entertainment and companionship during this uncertain time. They are captive and immersed in our content on all platforms and our top personalities continue to deliver.”

About Cox Media Group
Cox Media Group (CMG) is an industry-leading media company with dominant brands, award-winning content, and exceptional people. CMG provides valuable local content to diverse audiences in the communities in which it serves. The company’s operations include 33 market-leading television stations in 20 markets, 54 award-winning radio stations in 10 markets and numerous multi-platform streaming video and digital platforms. Cox Media Group’s portfolio includes affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and MyNetworkTV, as well as several valuable independent stations. Additionally, Cox Media Group operates the National Advertising Platform businesses of CoxReps and Gamut; and offers a full suite of local and regional advertising services with Local Solutions. For more information about Cox Media Group and its businesses, please visit www.coxmediagroup.com.