Yesterday, I made my first Techsurvey 2022 presentation to the people who deserved to see its debut – the stakeholders. And more than 450 of them were offered a ringside seat to a study that I believe will be much-talked-about this year.
Oftentimes, I am asked what's the most important finding in the study – the one data point that stands out amidst the mountains of spreadsheets and charts. Of course, it's difficult to make that call because there's so much this study urges us to think about – the changing nature of in-car listening, the audience's growing use of digital platforms, podcasting's progress, and so much more. We have some new questions in this year's Techsurvey I'm excited to show you. They get right to the heart of who and what radio is competing against in 2022.
But the one eyebrow raiser in the study that impacted me is less an answer to a question, and more about the continuation of a trend. If there was a surprise, it happened in 2019. This year's study simply confirmed what many of us have known all along:
Radio's ultimate strength as a medium is dependent on the power and popularity of its personalities.
How do I know that? Every year in our “Why Radio?” series, every respondent (30,000+ this year) are given more than 20 possible attributes, and asked to tell us which are the main reasons why they listen to AM/FM radio.
Two of them are “DJs/shows/hosts” and “To hear favor ite songs/artists.”
That's right – it's the classic faceoff between music and talk. And over the past four years, the tables have turned. Over time, broadcast radio's appeal is less about the music it plays, and more about its personality lineup.
This chart trending nine consecutive years of Techsurvey's paints a clear and compelling picture of what core radio listeners care about:
How do I explain this reversal of fortune?
Music has become commoditized. I can get every song every recorded on my phone – commercial-free. Music on the radio simply isn't all that exclusive. But personality? I can only hear your morning show on your station. Talent is your exclusive, proprietary content.
So these numbers aren't all that surprising. In fact, they are compelling and say a lot about the state of broadcast radio – but nothing like a real story about radio personalities and the impact they can have. The inspiration for this post comes from Lori Lewis, former Jacobian social media maven who is now out there dispensing advice from her own perch.
The other day, she posted a story about a chance encounter with a listener who was an uber fan of the Murphy, Sam, and Jodi morning show. And I'll let Lori tell you what happened:
Here's mine. My wife and I are in Italy on a tour bus headed to a winery. We get to talking with a mom and her daughter from Seattle. The daughter is graduating from college – and I never do this – but I asked her if she listens to any local radio in the market. Our company had worked with Entercom since they bought their Seattle properties, and we were closely involved with KISW and KNDD (The End).
So, I ask the question about radio, the daughter makes “the face,” and responds, “Not really. Well, actually every once in a while, mostly while I'm driving. Sometimes, I listen to the alternative station.”
I respond, “The End?”
Now she's leaning forward. I mention my company does work for the station, and the girl lights up. The conversation has changed.
“I am a HUGE fan of their morning show, Gregr,” she tells me. “I love his stories about his dog, his mattress commercials, everything.”
I respond that I know Greg, and I might be able to arrange for her to meet him. Now, she's over the moon.
You know the rest of the story. Of course, Gregr is cool with this. He is perhaps the most listener-friendly personality I know, always willing to go that extra mile for fans. That's who he is. That's what he does. That's why he's bigger than the music.
As Lori reminds us at the end of her story:
Now you've got the quantitative and the qualitative to prove it.
Join me for an exclusive presentation of Techsurvey 2022 at the AllAccess Audio Summit later this month. Info here.
And I'll be back at Morning Show Boot Camp with AQ4 – radio's only survey of on-air talent. Info here.
Thanks to Lori Lewis.