AM/FM Radio: Audio Dominance in a Mobile World

October 29, 2017

In the decade since the iPhone debuted, the world has been transformed by mobile devices. Despite this ubiquitous adoption of smartphones, AM/FM radio sustains its overall dominance in the audio space.

What makes AM/FM radio’s continued strength in a mobile age possible? In a single word: Employment.

at work

Each month, adults in the U.S. (18+) consume 700 BILLION more minutes of AM/FM radio than pure-play streams. That’s an advantage of 50 BILLION quarter hours, based on national audience data from Nielsen Audio’s Comparative Metrics Report, Q1 2017.

Everyone in radio can recite statistics about reach, but that’s only part of the story. The ongoing power of radio rests with our employed audience, which consumes enormous amounts of AM/FM radio in the car and at-work. Best of all for advertisers, this audience has money to spend.

When economic headlines mention 5% unemployment rate, the obvious assumption is that 95% of adults are working. By extension, this same logic would indicate that every advertising platform is equally effective at reaching these most sought after consumers. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that is simply not the case. 40% of U.S. adults are out of the workforce. That means 150 million Americans work (60%) and 100 million American adults do not.

Heavy listeners of radio are overwhelmingly employed with 85% of consumption among A25-54 being driven by people with jobs. Even on the younger end, among P18-24, approximately 63% of listening across markets and major formats is driven by employed persons.

The reason for this difference in listening isn’t due to smart phones or overly simplified theories about listening habits of millennials, who are already the largest generation in the workforce. It is because P18-24 are always less employed than their older counterparts. Decade after decade, this younger demographic has never been the driving force behind radio listening.

As station programming super-serves its employed audience, radio sellers need a more compelling story, not just to win ad dollars from other radio stations, but more importantly away from local TV and print.

The employment angle is compelling, not simply because it’s a long held programming fundamental, but because these are the consumers who advertisers want to target and reach, people with a paycheck and money to spend.

As recent natural disasters remind us, radio stations take their unique public service mandate seriously.  A similar public interest obligation can be brought to life by the sales team in terms of radio’s ongoing impact on the local economy. By putting advertisers in direct contact with employed persons, radio’s ability to deliver ROI and help businesses grow, which leads to job creation (and more listening) is enormous.

We recently discussed these employment and consumption insights with Erica Farber, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau on the Radio on Main Street Podcast.

We’ve also made a slide deck available to bring these points to life and empower radio groups and local stations as they advocate AM/FM radio’s position of strength in a mobile world.

Whatever challenges might await radio in the future, let’s not take our eyes off the prize now. 700 BILLION minutes and an employed audience are two huge chips that radio needs to keep cashing in.


Andrew Curran, President and COO

Employment: The Key to Unlocking Your Online Strategy

October 1, 2017

There are 2.8 million apps available for download and the average person interacts with their smartphone more than 1,000 times per week.

Despite unlimited access and an infinite choice of options, most interactions with the phone involve just two or three apps, with text messaging and Facebook dominating mobile usage.

In addition, nearly 60% of all Google searches are now done on mobile devices. Looking at the most popular searches offers additional insights into what people do with their phones besides catching up with friends.

While it is important that your brand and your website have strong Search Engine Optimization performance, not a lot of traffic is generated by people searching for local media.

What are they using search for? Primarily, it’s based on learning and discovery.

Google just released a list of the most popular “How To” keyword searches. On the surface, the top results are random and inconclusive. 

  1. How to tie a tie
  2. How to kiss
  3. How to get pregnant
  4. How to lose weight
  5. How to draw
  6. How to make money
  7. How to make pancakes
  8. How to write a cover letter
  9. How to make French toast
  10. How to lose belly fat
  11. How to write a resume

Now consider the fundamentals of radio listening. It’s driven by employment, which empowers drive time and at-work consumption.

With that in mind, let’s look again at #1, #6, #8, #11. They all connect with work.

1. How to tie a tie
6. How to make money
8. How to write a cover letter
11. How to write a resume

As you look at creating compelling online content, how much (if any) currently ties back into what people are naturally searching for along with the added benefit of connecting to the #1 driver of radio consumption… employment.

Even # 4, #10, #7, and #9 can easily be viewed through an employment lens.

4. How to lose weight
10. How to lose belly fat
7. How to make pancakes
9. How to make French toast

#4 and #10 connect with self-confidence, which is certainly a valuable attribute in a job search as well as when you are in pursuit of your next promotion or are just going through another 40 hour week.

Meanwhile, when it comes to getting out the door on time and still enjoying the most important meal of the day (#7 and #9), what about sharing life hacks for making breakfast?

Last but not least, radio is always looking for ways to connect and engage with younger audiences. Some tasteful creativity involving #2 and #3 (kissing and getting pregnant) would generate compelling station content and drive engagement.

It all starts with a deep understanding of your audience and the fact that 85% or more of your listening is generated by employed persons who turn on your station in the car and at-work.

Let’s use radio’s talent and creativity to generate digital content that people will more readily discover and share because it reflects the topics they are already searching for.

When your brand is top of mind with the employed listeners who matter most, it allows you to win more listening occasions and drive your ratings and revenue.

Let’s discuss how your digital content can drive listening and ratings. Send us an email or call 859-957-1581.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

Open Letter to Radio: Insights on Generosity and AM/FM Listening following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

August 31, 2017

An Open Letter to Radio,

Surrounding any natural disaster, there are a series of predictable events including an outpouring of charitable giving and a surge of radio listening.

While the generosity of charitable giving is viewed through the lens of “America at its best”, which undoubtedly is true, radio listening will be held by some to a different standard.

Critics and skeptics will contend that while radio listening increases during and immediately after a disaster, it goes away almost as quickly as it came. In some cases, radio’s role moving forward is predicted to be “perhaps only existing as emergency frequency.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As people in Texas, Florida and other areas hit by these hurricanes benefit from an enormous outpouring of nationwide support, does anyone believe that people merely “rediscovered” generosity? Of course not.

We all know that America is generous 365 days per year. Our charitable spirit simply gets magnified in times of disaster and crisis.

The same is true of radio. 24/7 we are operating in the “public interest, convenience and necessity” and the audience knows it. In their cars and at-work, radio usage by Americans is unrivaled. Radio is their preferred destination, not an option of last resort.

When a natural disaster strikes, people don’t “rediscover” radio anymore than people “rediscover” generosity. Instead, they double-down and magnify their daily media habits, which means listening to more radio.

Hearing a trusted voice is even more important during times of crisis.

Another important connection between generosity and radio is employment. You cannot donate money that you don’t have.

The same is true with radio. People don’t listen on their couch at home. The vast majority of AM/FM listening is driven by employed persons.

We know all of this to be true about radio – the challenge is having the courage to believe it.

Despite the current political climate and variety of mobile audio platforms, the role of generosity and AM/FM radio in the lives of Americans is not only secure, it’s vibrant.

Here’s to celebrating what’s right with radio and the world.


Andrew Curran
President and COO


Teenage Summer Jobs: The Evolving Marketplace

July 10, 2017

Remember your first summer job?

It’s a right of passage that lasted just 10-12 weeks, but provided invaluable lessons and memories for a lifetime.

I had a paper route for a couple of years, when at the age of 15,
I became a busboy at the local country club.

I still remember the transistor radio positioned near the dishwasher.

Only one station played in Chef Paul’s kitchen that summer: WEBN, Cincinnati’s legendary rock station.

Over the recent 4th of July weekend, I noticed a Time Magazine article describing the current state of teenage summer employment.

As Bob Dylan says, “The Times They Are a Changin'”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the high water mark for summer jobs was 1978, when 72% of American teenagers were employed.

Fast forward to last year and just 35% of teenagers were in the job market.

Since 2000, teenagers working summer jobs have dropped by 15%, falling from half the population to one-third.

Despite the fear each generation has about kids today being lazy, the reasons point in a variety of other directions.

From the consistent rise in minimum wage in recent years that allows more experienced workers to fill entry level jobs to the myriad of sports and activities that occupy their time, teenagers are stretched thin.

Even summer school, which traditionally helped kids catch up is now being used by high achievers to get further ahead and polish their college resumes. Last summer, 40% of 16-19 year olds were enrolled in school.

In addition, to help put their best foot forward with colleges, 77% of high school students are willing to volunteer to gain relevant experience in a professional setting without a paycheck.

In fact, that 15% decline in the teenage workforce since 2000 has been mirrored by an increase in college enrollment over the same period.

While it’s easy to over generalize about the work ethic of today’s teenagers, it’s equally dangerous to dismiss the strength of radio.

So where do we fit into this changing teenage landscape? In a word, radio is RESILIENT.

According to Nielsen, over the last decade radio has retained its teenage audience.

As these teenagers become adults, radio continues to flex its muscle. In Nielsen’s latest Comparable Metrics Report, radio reaches more 18-34 year olds each week than TV or smartphones.

We know that a majority of radio listening is driven by employed persons in the car and at-work. In fact, our core target audience is comprised of exactly the audience advertisers want to reach … people with money to spend.

Your heavy listening P1s are employed outside the home and consume a lot of radio, which is why they make such an significant impact on your ratings.

As summer employment trends among teenagers continue to evolve, radio’s strength and resilience endures … driven by compelling content on-air and Top of Mind Awareness off-air.

Want increased listening? Let us recruit and engage the heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue. Send us an email or call 859-957-1581.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

Keys to the Driverless Kingdom: Compelling Content + Top of Mind Awareness

May 15, 2017

When it comes to disruption, there are two sides of the coin: Risk and Opportunity.

While doom and gloom about the future has become a cottage industry, the driverless car represents a transformational opportunity for radio as we strive to achieve $20 billion in annual revenue by 2022 (#20×22).

In order to fully capture the opportunity of driverless cars, we must first understand that the future is already here.

Although cars will continue to have steering wheels and brake pedals for years to come, the ability to switch to auto pilot on the interstate exists today, as this entertaining 45 sec. video of a 70 year old behind the wheel of a Tesla demonstrates.

At the moment, Grandma is not seeing the opportunity, she is fearing for her life. However, as an industry, this seismic shift in commuting represents a billion dollar opportunity and radio is well positioned to cash in.

According to Business Insider, starting next year, driverless car shipments will experience significant annual growth.

Although this accelerated growth might seem hard to believe, if we look back, the iPhone adoption rate followed a similar growth curve. Even more remarkable considering that shortly after it debuted 10 years ago, we experienced the Great Recession.

Last month at TED2017 in Vancouver, Elon Musk announced that a driverless Tesla would go from LA to NYC before the end of the year and that within 2 years, drivers could fall asleep and wake up at their destination.

Companies including Uber, Ford, Waymo (Google) and Apple are investing billions to expedite the mainstream adoption of driverless cars, ride sharing and other mobility services.

Also worth noting: the 2020 Summer Olympics are in Tokyo, just 3 years away. During the games, the host city and Japanese automakers are planning to show the world a self driving city.

Own the Commute

As drivers increasingly become passengers, they will still commute in isolation, which means the companionship of radio will continue to be in demand.

More importantly, drivers will for the first time have the opportunity to respond and interact in a deeper way with their favorite DJ, something difficult to currently do while operating a vehicle.

Whether Dr. Johnny Fever is doing a live read for an advertiser or he’s asking people to rally around a sick child on social media, commuters will have an opportunity to lawfully and safely interact with your content and one another in real time.

This ability for stations to strengthen the connection with the audience (both with the brand and one another) along with deeper and more immediate interactions during drive time, creates the foundation for radio’s billion dollar growth.

To realize the full potential of driverless cars, Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) becomes even more important.

Before starting their commute, is your target audience thinking of your brand first and most? Compelling content without Top of Mind Awareness is futile.

The challenge of the driverless world is also our challenge today. Radio’s best listeners, the heavy listening Nielsen P1s, spend 90% of their lives away from the radio.

Being part of their life away from the radio is already an essential component of success. With that in mind, here are three ways to generate Top of Mind Awareness and Own the Commute:

Facebook video to jump start the day. People start their day on their phones. A quick daily video by your morning show with a rundown of the show and a preview of the day is great way to generate TOMA.

Gas cards. Radio has been doing free gas giveaways for decades. It’s another great way to generate Top of Mind Awareness among commuters, but let’s innovate this promotion with a data driven strategy that maximizes the impact. Surprise & Delight individual Super-Fans and Amplifiers in your Hot Zips with gas cards.

Coffee and Carry Out. While a gas card fills up the SUV, what about the driver? Coffee for the commute will always be a staple of morning drive. In the afternoons, provide dinner to your best Super-Fans and Amplifier with a gift card from an advertiser.

Best of all, these moments are shared on social media and discussed via Word of Mouth, which is the most effective way to generate Top of Mind Awareness.

The full impact of driverless cars won’t be realized for many years to come, but there’s no time to wait. The fundamentals of the future are the fundamentals of today. Compelling content on-air. Top of Mind Awareness off-air.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

20 Years and $400 Billion Later: It’s Still Day 1

April 17, 2017

Amazon is now worth $420 billion with a stock price just below $900 per share, but for Jeff Bezos there’s no time to rest. It’s always Day 1 and this has been his unrelenting mantra for 20 years.

In his recent letter to shareholders, Bezos shared why it’s so important for Amazon to maintain a start up mentality.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

According to Bezos (see full letter here), the best way to maintain this Day 1 vitality is “obsessive customer focus.”

For Amazon, there are many advantages to being customer-centric, but the best one is “customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied … Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

Bezos continues, “Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.”

As a young Vince Vaughn said twenty years ago in the movie Swingers, “You always double down.”

The Desire to Delight Customers

Compare Amazon’s approach, which is even brought to life with the smile logo on the tail of Amazon Prime airplanes with the current state of passenger airline service.

As blogger Gary Leff told The New York Times, “There’s a lot of blame to go around, not the least of which is the overall culture of aviation where customer service issues have become law enforcement issues.”

This wasn’t always the case. Prior to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, “the government controlled airfares and routes, and airlines vied to differentiate themselves with meals and leg room.” Over the last decade, airlines have unbundled services, making checked bags and meals, “pay-per-use options.”

Radio deregulated 20 years ago and in the time since, are we operating more like Amazon or the major airlines?

For the last 10 years, PPM markets have been engaged in longitudinal samples. Yet many stations still arbitrarily restrict winning (and listening) with their contest rules: “An individual may win a Contest or Sweepstakes only once per six (6) month period unless otherwise specifically stated.”

Taking it one step further, some in radio still refer to listeners who demonstrate brand loyalty by regularly playing along with station promotions, as “contest pigs.”

Even before the 1996 Telecom Act, it was difficult for a listener to get someone in the studio to answer the phone. Now on social media, when everyone gets to see in plain sight listeners being ignored by a station, how many questions and comments go unanswered?

The good news is that more and more stations are demonstrating Day 1 thinking. For example, embracing tools like Promosuite Next, which empowers the front desk to Surprise & Delight select listeners as they come in to pick up their prize. These listeners in turn are posting about the great experience with their favorite station even before they get back in their car.

Other clients are using our audience visualization and mapping tools to plan promotions and events that maximize the impact to both core listeners and advertisers.

Best of all, the benefits of providing enhanced customer service to Super-Fans and Amplifiers are self evident and when the necessary tools are provided to empower your team, it allows radio to consistently achieve Day 1 thinking.

From there, opportunities exist to expand Surprise and Delight efforts, which further drive marketing ROI by increasing listening occasions with Top of Mind Awareness.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward with Day 1 thinking.

Andrew Curran, President and COO