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JacobsMedia Main Reasons for Listening to Public Radio Nov2021

Radio reaches the largest audience of any medium — approximately 9 in 10 US adults every week. Two-fifths of the time Americans spend listening to audio is done via AM/FM radio, and, per a new report [download page] from Jacobs Media in conjunction with the Public Radio Program Directors Association, 1 in 5 (19%) AM/FM radio listeners say they’ve listened to public radio more in the last year than they have in the past. 

The survey of more than 22,800 AM/FM radio listeners found that three-quarters (74%) listen to public radio because it provides the most trustworthy and objective programming. Others say they turn to the medium to be informed (71%) and because they enjoy learning new things (69%).

While those individuals listening to more public radio are doing so because of its availability on multiple platforms (37%) and because they feel the need to support public radio (36%), most are turning to public radio because of the current political climate (52%) and due to a lifestyle change (52%).

Notably, these are the same reasons some are choosing to listen to less public radio. Among the slim 12% who say they have listened to less public radio in the past year, less time in the car (62%) is their main reason for cutting down on their listening time, while more than half (57%) say they have listened less because of a lifestyle change, and one-fifth (18%) due to the current political climate.

Although a contentious 2020 election and a barrage of bad news might drive people to listen to public radio less, the survey indicates otherwise. Only one-third (34%) of respondents say they are following the news less closely since the election and even fewer (16%) say they are listening to less public radio to get a break from the news.

Smart Speakers Impact Radio Listening

Some 3 in 10 AM/FM radio listeners surveyed say they have a Smart Speaker. While common uses for Smart Speakers include checking the weather or automating tasks, listening to audio appears to be a popular use for them. Some two-fifths of Smart Speaker owners surveyed say they use their device to listen to AM/FM radio stations (41%) and for streaming music (39%).

Furthermore, nearly one-quarter (23%) of Smart Speaker owners surveyed say they have listened to AM/FM radio more since purchasing their device, with 11% saying they have listened a lot more. 

Read the full report here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a June-July survey of 22,858 respondents, most of whom are part of Public Radio station databases and Public Radio core users. 

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