Radio has been named the most trusted form of media for the 10th year in a row according to Eurobarometer. But with recent news that 50 commercial radio stations, owned by media giant Bauer, are due to fold, does the medium have longevity in an increasingly digital world?
RAJAR figures for Q1 of 2020 offer some insight into the decision. The national institution that is the BBC continues to dominate, owning nearly half of the entire radio listening audience (49.7%) in the UK, equating to 33.5m listeners.
BBC local radio stations include Suffolk, Shropshire and Humberside enjoyed vastly increased audiences, while commercial stations SAMfm Bristol, TalkSport2 and Radio Essex also showed growth.
If nothing else, we should all be impressed by radio’s ability to adapt to circumstance, with most news programming going ahead with sparse teams or from radio presenters’ own homes. And, while television and social content producers may have been struggling due to social distancing, radio’s audio format was able to continue unimpinged.
This ‘old school’ format doesn’t mean radio isn’t moving with the times. Digital listening is up 2.2% on the same quarter of 2019, and this shows no sign of slowing.
It is important though to note, that these figures only cover up until March 2020, i.e. the early days of lockdown. With many working from home, we would expect radio to be on the rise for Q2, as each of us gets to personally choose what we listen to.
Is, as Freddie Mercury sang, radio yet to have its ‘finest hour’? It will be interesting to see whether 20 hour average radio listening figures per adult have increased in April and May. Ultimately, millions of listeners with nowhere else to go is surely great news for the medium, which has once again proved its staying power.