The Infinite Dial® Reports · September 24, 2020

Radio Listener Profiles: An Infinite Dial Report

By Edison Research

Radio listeners in the U.S. can’t be characterized as a monolith as each format has listeners with different audio behaviors. New, format-specific findings on radio listeners were released today in the webinar “Radio Format Profiles: An Infinite Dial® Study” presented by Laura Ivey, Director of Research at Edison Research.

Data from The Infinite Dial®, an annual study on digital consumer behaviors from Edison Research and  Triton Digital® were used to explore eleven of the top radio formats in the U.S.

Click here to download the Radio Listener Profiles: The Infinite Dial 

The report focused on weekly AM/FM radio listeners who reported listening most often to a radio station that mostly plays one of the following formats:Alternative Rock, Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Contemporary Christian, Country, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, Hip-Hop/Rap, News/Talk, R&B, Sports, and Top 40. Although radio formats are often classified just by the age and sex of listeners, not all audio and audio device behaviors can be tracked along these lines.

Following are some key findings about those who listen most to these radio formats, also known as P1 Listeners:

Radio continues to have a hardware challenge, particularly with younger-leaning formats
Eleven formats were indexed against the market average for owning a traditional radio receiver in their home. Formats whose P1 listeners are more likely to own an in-home radio include Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Country, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, News/Talk, and Sports. Formats less likely to own an in-home radio include Alternative Rock, Contemporary Christian, and the two formats that index the lowest for in-home radio ownership: Hip Hop/Rap and Top 40. R&B is exactly the market average for owning a radio in the household.

Smart speakers provide a partial solution for radio
Fortunately for radio, technology has provided more devices for listening. Smart speaker ownership is consistently growing, and radio formats with younger P1 listeners, such as Alternative Rock, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, Hip Hop/Rap, R&B, Sports, and Top 40, are more likely to own one.

Formats whose P1 listeners are less likely to own a smart speaker: Country, Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Contemporary Christian, and News/Talk.

“Migrating loyal radio listeners from traditional radio hardware to smart speakers and mobile devices is essential to the future of radio,” said Ivey. “Consumers of audio should be thinking of radio when they make their listening choices.”

“Understanding the device ownership, discovery habits, social media preferences, and podcast tastes of P1 listeners is incredibly valuable insight for AM/FM radio stations as they continuously refine their online strategies,” said John Rosso, President of Market Development at Triton Digital.  “Understanding how to reach their P1’s online will undoubtedly help broadcasters further engage with their most loyal listeners.”

Online listening remains elusive for AM/FM radio stations
Over 75% of radio P1 listeners to Sports, Top 40, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal and Hip Hop/Rap reported listening to any online audio services in the last week. When looking specifically at listening to AM/FM radio online in the last week, however, the percentages drop significantly:
Sports (45%), R&B (28%), News/Talk (26%), Alternative Rock (26%), Hard Rock/Heavy Metal (26%).

Music discovery is moving to YouTube and other places
YouTube as a source for music discovery defies age and radio format boundaries and is one of the top three sources for new music discovery by all of the music formats profiled in this study. AM/FM radio was one of the top three sources for new music discovery by all of the music formats with the exception of Hip Hop/Rap.

How this study was conducted
3,159 online interviews were conducted January and February, 2020, before COVID-19 disruptions. The online interviews are a supplement to The Infinite Dial telephone-based survey. The online survey was offered in both English and Spanish and is weighted to match the U.S. 12+ population.

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space.  Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.

About Triton Digital
Triton Digital® is the global technology and services leader to the digital audio and podcast industry. Operating in more than 45 countries, Triton provides innovative technology that enables broadcasters, podcasters, and online music services to build their audience, maximize their revenue, and streamline their day-to-day operations. In addition, Triton powers the global online audio industry with Webcast Metrics®, the leading online audio measurement service and Podcast Metrics, one of the first IAB certified podcast measurement services in the industry. With unparalleled integrity, excellence, teamwork, and accountability, Triton remains committed to connecting audio, audience, and advertisers to continuously fuel the growth of the global online industry.  Triton Digital is a wholly owned subsidiary of The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP).  For more information, visit

View the full webinar below:


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