Actually, all radio personalities are guilty of parasocial interactions with their listeners...and it's another reason why listeners love radio. Most importantly, it's why radio continues to be an engaging and compelling advertising medium. A recent study by The University of California, Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism finds that 82% listeners have parasocial feelings for their favorite radio personalities.
What is a Parasocial Interaction?
According to the the study's author, Paula Woodely, a parasocial interaction "describes one-sided interpersonal relationships in which one party knows (or feels as though they know) a great deal about the other. The most common form of such relationships is between celebrities and their fans. There is an 'illusion of intimacy' between media personalities and audience in parasocial interactions." This study is the first to establish that these interactions clearly exists between radio personalities and their listeners.
Key Findings of The Study
- Hopelessly Devoted: 30% of respondents spend 51-75% of their time with radio listening to their favorite personality. 34% of respondents spend 26-50% of their time listening to their favorite personality
- Insatiable Appetite: 81% of respondents said they listen to their favorite personality "whenever I can"
- Can't Leave Home Without Them: 55% of respondents listen to their favorite personality on a computer or mobile device when they are away from their radio
- Seeks Long Term Commitment: 63% of respondents have listened to their favorite personality for 4+ years
How Advertisers Benefit
As discussed in the Small Business Guide To Effective Radio Advertising, to ensure the success of an advertising campaign, stations should be chosen based on QUALITY not QUANTITY. One factor, then, that should be considered should is the parasocial interaction listeners have with the station's on-air personalities because:
- 75% of respondents turn on the radio because they know their favorite personality is on the air
- 79% of respondents listen to that radio station because their favorite personality is on the air
- 85% of respondents change the station less frequently whn their favorite personality is on the air
- 72% or respondents talk to their friends about their favorite personality or what they heard on the program
In another of our recent blog articles, Five Things You Know That Ain't So!, we talked about the fact that despite all of the new media choices for music and entertainment, radio still reaches 93% of all consumers each week. This percentage is exactly the same as it was in 2002 prior to Pandora, iPods, iPads, XM, Facebook, and Spotify. Clearly, the parasocial bond listeners have with their favorite radio personalities keeps consumers tuned-in and engaged. And certainly a tuned-in engaged audience is the most receptive to an advertiser's message.