Elvis Costello might once have sarcastically snarled that “radio is a sound salvation, radio is cleaning up the nation” but it seems consumers are returning in their droves, with new figures showing the average time spent listening to commercial stations has nearly doubled to 26 hours a week.
Radiocentre commissioned research agency DRG to explore how the coronavirus crisis has changed listening behaviour in the short-term. Among a sample of more than 1,000 commercial radio listeners, 38% are tuning in for an extra hour and 45 minutes each day since lockdown, as they adjust to spending more time at home. These listeners are now tuning in for an average of 26 hours every week, compared to 14 pre-pandemic.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the rise of working from home has been the real driving force behind the increase. Some 45% of the WFH group are listening to more radio now – on average for an additional two hours each day – and the data suggests consumers are generally more in need of radio to help them cope with being stuck at home.
The research, Staying Connected During the Covid-19 Crisis, explores the reasons behind the huge jump in listening and how radio is keeping people connected even while isolated.
With many inside under lockdown in the UK, 90% of respondents agreed that commercial radio kept them in touch with the outside world, while a similar number agreed it kept them informed (89%). A further 84% – possibly missing regular social activities – said that radio keeps them company.
Confidence in radio as a source of news was also a recurring reason for tuning in, with “it delivers trusted news” cited by 68% and “I trust the news on radio more than other sources” by 51%.
The new research follows evidence from commercial broadcasters and radio stations across the UK, collected by Radiocentre, which showed a double-digit increase in digital listening following the beginning of the lockdown.
Both Bauer and Global reported a rise in daily reach of 15%, while children’s radio station Fun Kids has also seen a large increase in online audience following the decision to close schools across the country, with streaming hours for the station up 80% overall.
Radiocentre chief executive Siobhan Kenny said: “With so many of us confined to our homes, either working or self-isolating, we are seeing shifts in media consumption across the UK. In these strangest of times, we are all finding our own ways to cope, and I am grateful that radio is proving such a consistent source of comfort and trusted news to so many.”
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