Cockroaches have been around for about 280 million years, a longevity record that has inspired Bloomberg to compare radio to the species. “Radio has survived everything,” this Bloomberg news video notes, “from eight tracks to iTunes, and so far, an onslaught of streaming music startups.”
The piece cites industry claims that 92 percent of Americans tune in at least once a week, “unchanged since 1970.” Then comes a quote from Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman: “Do you think we are so dumb that we would pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year to program music stations versus playing music? . . . Why do you pay an announcer ten million dollars a year or twenty million dollars a year? Because they’re worth it.”
Bloomberg doesn’t cut Pittman off at this point and note Clear Channel’s penchant for deejay layoffs, but the feature does point out that in the 1990s the radio giant let go of a whole wave of locally based formats in favor of generic national content. We should also remember that while the percent of Americans who listen to radio hasn’t changed, the amount of radio they consume has. Arbitron’s Radio Today survey in 2001 noted that Americans on average spent about 20.5 hours a week listening to AM/FM radio. In 2014, Nielsen’s State of the Media report observed that consumers age 18 to 34 now only listen to about 11.5 hours a week while the 35 to 49 demographic only tunes in around 14 hours a week. Even “boomers,” as Nielsen call them, now listen around 14.5 hours a week at best.
This is millions of hours lost to broadcast radio. Still, as Internet and mobile radio services struggle to pay data and royalty fees, it’s becoming increasingly clear that AM/FM enjoys huge structural advantages that won’t go away.
BTW: did you know that roaches love booze and can live for a week without their heads? Sounds like the radio industry to me!
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