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James Cridland: The future of radio – according to our future listeners

James Cridland: If you have ever been to a talk by James you know he is all about the figures. It is numbers and data – and this week it is about the future and how listeners will listen, according to future listeners.


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Radio is going multiplatform. Whenever I speak, wherever I speak, that’s the key piece of information I’d like the audience to remember. AM and FM are ways of getting our audio to our audience – but they’re not the only way. There’s satellite, there’s DAB and HD, there’s the internet, and there’s other ways too.

Nowhere is this more the case than the UK, where radio listening to AM and FM are only around 50% of all listening. People in the UK are now used to listening to radio in many different ways.

Every so often, I go through the figures here: and remind you, dear listener, that internet radio listening is relatively small: less than 10% of all live radio listening, in spite of whatever you or anyone else might think.

These repeated stories are made possible by RAJAR, the company that publishes the radio figures. They do so with candour and openness that’s surprisingly absent from many radio markets across the world.

The latest study that they’ve published, in addition to the quarterly radio figures, is the Junior Audio Measurement Joint Audience Research, better called “JAMJAR”. It surveyed 621 children between 9-14, and the headline for the industry is that, yes, kids are still listening to the radio.

74% of British kids listen to radio every week, and 68% profess to liking or loving it, the survey says.

So – that oft-repeated quote that kids don’t listen to the radio? It’s rubbish, and provably so.

Except. They’re not, all, listening to the radio.

Just over 60% listen to the “radio through radio”, as the research quaintly puts it, for a average of 10.7 hours a week.

But 20% listen to radio on their laptop or PC; and about 25% listen to radio through the TV (most large brands are available on TV channels too). Those that use these platforms listen for the same amount of time as the radio – just over ten hours a week.

Near 30% listen to radio through their smartphone or tablet: and those that do are listening longer, almost 13 hours a week.

And over 15% are listening to catch-up services like the BBC’s iPlayer or catchup on Capital or KISS’s apps: again, for about ten hours a week.

So, not only are tomorrow’s adult listeners still tuning in to radio, they’re tuning into radio on more platforms than anyone else.

Radio’s future is bright: and radio’s future is multiplatform.


James Cridland is a radio futurologist – a writer, speaker and consultant working with the brightest radio brains in the world. He has worked for the BBC and Virgin Radio in London. Join over 2,500 other radio professionals and subscribe to his free weekly newsletter (in English) at https://james.cridland.net

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