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According to Google Analytics, one of our most popular blog posts ever was a piece we posted back in 2016 titled “17 Reasons Why People Listen to AM/FM Radio.” Today, we’re updating that popular post with all-new info from Jacobs Media and Marketing Charts.

Some would say that with so many digital and satellite-delivered choices, from podcasts to streaming music, that the AM and FM buttons on America’s cars are never getting touched. But this report proves that AM/FM radio remains popular with consumers. In fact, 16% of those surveyed said that they are actually listening to AM/FM radio more.

What is keeping listeners hooked to AM/FM radio? The most common reason comes down to America’s love of the automobile, as the most frequently cited reason (71%) is that it’s easiest to listen in the car. After all, virtually every vehicle have a traditional radio that’s relatively easy to use.

Like everything else, digital or otherwise, familiarity and quality of the content makes a difference. Around 6 in 10 listen because of the DJs/hosts/shows (59%) with a similar percentage saying they can hear their favorite songs/artists (57%). Emotional factors are at play too, as 51% say they feel a connection with radio and 44% say that it keeps them company.

One of AM/FM radio’s unique qualities is that it’s local, and listeners love local. The majority (86%) of respondents reported that they either agreed (40%) or strongly agreed (46%) that radio’s local orientation was one of its primary advantages. This sentiment has been rising steadily throughout the years, with 77% of respondents saying they agree/strongly agree in 2016, growing to this year’s 86%.

Smart Speaker ownership has had an effect on AM/FM listening habits, in particular with Gen Z listeners. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of Gen Z respondents reported that they listened to AM/FM radio either a little more (10%) or a lot more (9%) since getting a Smart Speaker. (Note: these results are based on a sample of AM/FM radio listeners, so may not apply to all Smart Speaker owners.)

While Smart Speakers have helped to increase the number of Gen Z listening to traditional radio, they are still listening to the radio more in a vehicle than any other platform, with more than two-thirds (69%) saying all or most of their AM/FM radio listening is done in a vehicle.

About the Data: Source: Jacobs Media, Marketing Charts. Data was gathered from an online survey of 50,652 respondents from 519 radio stations in the US and Canada. 

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