Fifty-thousand people died last week in the United States. Very few of these fatalities were reported in The New York Times. But the Times did report on two men who passed away. These men earned a remembrance in the Times because they both had millions of friends, most of whom they never met. These men were radio personalities Larry Lujack and Stan Brooks.
I too was a friend of Mr. Lujack and Mr. Brooks. Although I never met either of them, I did spend time with both of them in my bedroom, in my car, in my kitchen and at work. As a kid, I listened to Mr. Lujack on both WCFL and WLS in Chicago. And as an adult, I listened to Mr. Brooks on 1010 WINS in New York. When I read about both men's passing this week, like their millions of other unknown friends, I felt a palpable sense of loss. Why is that?
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. This describes my one-way friendship with both Mr. Lujack and Mr. Brooks.
What is a Parasocial Interaction?
According to 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 exist between radio personalities like Mr. Lujack and Mr. Brooks 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
What Maine Small Business Can Learn From This
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 when 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.
3 Maine Small Businesses Who Have Success Using Radio Personalities In Commercials
Over the past few months, we have posted several articles detailing the success Maine small businesses have had utilizing local radio personalities in their commercials. Here is a link to three of them:
- The Full Belly Deli, Portland, ME
- Selby Shoes ETC, South Portland, ME
- The Cathy Manchester Team at Keller-Williams, Gray, ME
Local Radio Station Grants Christmas Wish of Deceased Listener
In another testament to the power of radio in the life of listeners, a woman from Iowa took the airwaves on Star 102.5 in Des Moines with a Christmas message for her family in the form of a letter. The letter, dated two years ago and read by a station personality, began, "Hello, my name is Brenda Schmitz. When you are in receipt of this letter, I will have already lost my battle to ovarian cancer." The deceased woman's letter went on to ask the radio station to grant 3 specific Christmas wishes to members of her surviving family. Here is the story as reported by CBS This Morning: