There’s been a spate of upbeat news stories about radio lately. If you haven’t heard, it is probably because New-Media pundits write all the headlines, and an upbeat tone regarding radio does not jive with their world view.
First there was the Wall Street Journal story about how radio stations are paying more attention to listeners. Yes, it was simplistic and misguided, but it has been a while since anybody did a radio programming story without a “radio is dying” angle.
Then there was the Apple announcement that the new iPod Nano would have an FM tuner. Then we had the roll-out of Microsoft’s Zunewith an HD tuner.
We noted recently here that several radio stocks are trending upwards. Somebody thinks radio stocks at these prices are a good investment. That and Larry Wilson’s purchase of the CBS Portland properties has created murmurs about money starting to flow back into radio. Read our observation here.
Nielsen released ratings showing that young demos were actually listening to radio at levels considerably higher than Arbitron’s flawed method suggested. Furthermore, it turned out that technically savvy people were actually listening to more radio than theirless techy friends. We wrote about that here.
The latest upbeat story may be the most dramatic evidence that radio is healthy and growing. A just released ARAnet study (PDF here) on news usage was headlined, Americans Increase Use of Online and Radio News Sources. Newspapers and television were relegated to the second line. How long has it been since radio shared top billing with online?
The study looked at usage and credibility of seven news sources. Television was first, while radio and newspaper are tied for second. Read that sentence again so that it sinks in. When it comes to use and credibility, radio is tied with newspaper for news.
Online was fourth. Significantly, compared to the last study, newspaper was down while both radio and online were up. Keep those rankings in mind as we look at how the study results were reported.
To illustrate the New-Media bias radio battles, check out the MediaPost story on the study here. Headlined Changing Times: Online Trumps Newspapers, this is the lead paragraph:
A new survey on media usage from the Opinion Research Corporation confirms what newspaper publishers have long feared: Americans are abandoning print daily newspapers for information in favor of online news.
The study does not say that. Television and newspaper are down. Radio and Online are up. It would be just as accurate to write: Americans are abandoning newspapers for radio. But that does not fit the world view of new-media pundits.
The study’s authors gave the headline to both online as well as radio’s growth, but in reporting the results, MediaPost buried details on radio’s growth in the fourth paragraph.
However, even MediaPost couldn’t completely ignore radio's growth story in the findings. They begrudgingly gave some credit to radio noting:
The OPC (study) also found a slightly smaller decrease in the number of people turning to TV news. However, there were also some unexpected gains for traditional media, including a greater reliance on radio for news and information.
Keep in mind that radio was the only traditional medium that grew, but writing the words growth and radio in the same sentence sticks in the craw of new-media pundits. The solution as we illustrated in the past here, is to qualify any positive news about radio, so the author added the word unexpected as if to hint that maybe it isn’t true.
All in all, a pretty good couple of weeks for radio. As the negative slant of the MediaPost article illustrates, there is still a lot of work to be done before radio’s Chicken Littles give up, but things are moving in the right direction.