There is a lot of good news, like the fact that Country Radio is the number one format. Arbitron lists Country + New Country as scoring 12.7 percent (with persons 25-54) of all listening to radio. Country Radio is way ahead of the number two format, Adult Contemporary, with 9.5 percent.
Country is the number two format in terms of number of outlets, when you add in HD and streaming. News and Talk is number one by a huge number but Country has almost three times more outlets on the FM dial versus News and Talk. And FM is still the number one source of listener usage.
In fact, Country Radio reaches more than 65 millions listeners each week and a fourth of all radio listeners in non-metro countries. The places where people still visit Wal-Mart and Target to buy their music.
Radio has given away usage in the house. I work with stations every day trying to recapture listening in the home, particularly in the morning. As more and more radio stations have gone away from providing news and information in the morning, TV has come and taken away that position. Now TV is the source for school closings, weather and even traffic information during early morning hours.
In fact, two thirds of Country Radio listening is done away from home. This has been the trend for six years now.
What I like about this information is that Arbitron reaches out and talks to people engaged with radio. You can quote a number of researchers and you might find some different results but Arbitron talks to people that are most important to me—people who have agreed to carry a meter or fill out a diary to track their media usage.
We should all care about these people because they are the kind of people that are willing to participate. They wouldn’t have agreed to participate in the ratings process if they weren’t active.
Nearly 50 percent of Country listeners live in households earning at least $50,000 a year. According to the report, this might be because our listeners are becoming increasingly more educated. Funny how one follows the other.
Similar information has come out of CMA studies that also show the growing income and educational levels.
Loyalty to the format has been so important for artists and radio stations through the years. Arbitron publishes numbers based on Time Spent Listening (TSL) to specific radio stations. As a station programmer you have two goals: attract as many people as possible to the station and then keep them there as long as possible.
The first is called cume, which is the total number of different persons who tune in during the course of a daypart for at least five minutes. Remember when I wrote a few weeks ago that making songs like “Need You Now” and “Remind Me” would be good for radio? That’s why.
TSL is an estimate of the amount of time the average listener spent with a station during a particular daypart. The explanation was made to point out that Country Radio is ranked first among English-language music formats. This is a format that appeals to its fans way beyond any other format.
I suspect that many in the music community do some sort of perceptual research on their artists and their music. But I wonder how many do research on the listeners. What do the listeners do with their discretionary time?
Again, using the new Arbitron information, we can learn a lot about those same people who spend so much time with Country Radio. The most popular recreational experiences and hobbies are camping, fishing and sewing/crafts. Swimming, bowling and photography are also high on the list.
Coupons are really big with the Country core, and I suspect every American today. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents use grocery coupons and 54 percent use coupons for other goods and services. Does it make sense to partner with radio stations and provide coupons for CDs/downloads and or concerts?
Despite what you see at concerts, remote broadcasts, and NASCAR, light beer is preferred over regular beer. And like at my house, salty snacks, candy and ice cream are very popular.
Where are you going to find these folks? At a country concert, rodeo, monster truck rally, or NHRA drag racing event. The Country radio listener is more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat and less likely to embrace environmental causes.
None of the above is earth-shattering information, but hopefully some of it is enlightening when thinking about how to interact with your listeners and your fans. We don’t tell our radio stations to adjust their thinking or to put on a front if they don’t understand or participate in the same things.
But you are more likely to run into your fans in a bowling alley than you are at an Occupy Yazoo City rally.