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Data source: Nielsen Audio

From iPods to Pandora, technology has produced a number of new ways of listening to music that make radio seem outdated. But as this data from Nielsen Audio makes clear, radio seems to be just as much a part of young people’s lives as it was for their parents: 92% of Americans ages 12-34 listen to the radio any given week.

Despite all the disruption and change in the music industry, the size of radio’s audience has remained stable. Since 2004, annual market research has found that radio’s weekly reach is roughly 90% of Americans every year. The 92% of Americans that radio reaches every week listen to an average of two and a half hours of radio per day. And radio’s biggest users are not luddites. Among Millennials, the top listeners are 46% more likely to own a smartphone or tablet than their peers.

Twitter’s post-IPO fortunes will be decided by its ability to be the top destination for marketers looking to target a specific audience. But the business side of radio can still claim to be the way to go to reach a massive audience. Radio reaches more Americans every week than any other medium. A greater percentage of young Americans (ages 18-34) actually listen to radio every week (94%) than use the Internet (91%).

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Data Source: Scarborough

The key to understanding the health of radio is that new services like Spotify seem to complement radio consumption rather than replace it. Radio’s user base has been stable or even grown slightly as Internet radio’s popularity has risen. One survey cited by the radio business found that users of Pandora listen to 50% more traditional radio than non-Pandora users. The time Americans spend using radio, TV, and the Internet has increased from 7 hours a day in 2003 to 8 hours in 2013. At least for now, most music lovers have reacted to new options by listening to even more music rather than dropping radio. 

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Data Source: Arbitron RADAR surveys / Nielsen Audio

Marketers of radio argue for its relevance in a future filled with streaming services by noting that DJs and radio personalities offer a personal connection that other music options lack. Radio also remains so prevalent because it is the top choice of drivers. Internet streaming services are still young. But at least for now, perceptions of radio’s death do seem exaggerated. 

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