Rumors of Radio’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

People have been talking about the death of radio for years. AM lost its social clout when FM began to dominate the airwaves. In 1979, one-hit-wonder Buggles claimed that video killed the radio star. Then cars began to have cassette players. Then CD players. Now, they have USB ports, Auxiliary outlets, and Bluetooth capabilities, all of which allow MP3s — the figurative villain in the analog v. digital debate — to be streamed through the car’s audio system.

Yet, it seems that rumors of radio’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. According to the latest data from the Pew Research Center, 92% of Americans age 12 and older listened to the radio at least once per week in 2012, which is down by only two percentage points from 2001. This means that for over a decade, people have continued to listen to the radio despite having other listening options available. 

In America’s major cities, radio also continues to ride shotgun on people’s daily commutes, or at least for a portion of it. Of New York’s 34.7 minute daily commute, more than three minutes is spent listening to the radio. Of Chicago’s 31.1 minute daily commute, three and a half minutes is spent listening to the news on the radio. Of Boston’s 28.9 minute commute, more than three minutes is spent listening to news and talk radio.

What’s more, it’s been found that 80% of people spend between one to three hours listening, and 40% of people are listening for one to two hour sessions at a time

Although people proclaim the death of radio so often that the very phrase “radio is dead” has become cliche, it simply isn’t. Despite new technologies and changing listening patterns, radio has continued — and will likely continue in the future — to be a part of our everyday lives.