A Maine small business owner broke the news to me: "Nobody listens to Portland radio any more."
"It's true," I responded. "Nobody listens to the radio any more."
"But, then again," I continued, "nobody listens any less, either."
"You wouldn’t know it from all the media coverage focused on streaming video and streaming music," wrote media expert Doug Schoen in Forbes, "but recent Nielsen data shows radio actually has the most reach among American media consumers. 93% of adults listen to the radio each week as compared to 87% who watch TV, a substantive difference."
Last week, according to Nielsen, 699,413 people living in Southern Maine tuned-in to a Portland radio station. That is the same number of people who tuned-in last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that.
Actually, according to Nielsen, radio's omnipresence has remained unchallenged despite the invasion of hundreds of new technological competitors.
In 2001, before there was iTunes, iPhones, iPads, Pandora, satellite radio, YouTube, Spotify, Hulu, and Words With Friends, radio reached 93% of Americans every week. Today, the medium still has the exact same reach.
"Aha," exclaimed the small business owner. "I will admit that a lot of people still tune-in to the radio once in a while, but they are spending less time listening."
In 1909, London department store owner Harry Gordon Selfridge was the first to declare, "The customer is always right." In the case of my misinformed business owner, however, the customer could not be any more wrong.
The time consumers spend listening to radio has remained pretty constant. "How can this be?" asked my business owner friend. "There are just so many more things to listen to and watch than ever before."
The chart below from Nielsen offers the simple explanation. People aren't spending less time with radio, they are just making more time in their life for all media. Significantly more time.
Searching for a win, the small business owner volleys, "Well that might be, but young people have stopped listening to the radio, that I know for certain."
In my head at that moment I remembered the words of Voltaire from my freshman philosophy class, "Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But, certainty is an absurd one.”
It turns out, according to Nielsen, that 88% of all teens use radio each week, more than any other medium.
Teens just don't listen to the radio, they immerse themselves in radio. Each day, teens spend 4 hours and 32 minutes consuming media. Twenty-fiver percent of that time is spent with radio.
Not every Maine business owner harbors misconceptions about the virility of the medium. Many local businesses claim advertising on Portland radio has accelerated the growth of their businesses.
Case in point. Scott Libby, owner of Royal River Heat Pumps in Freeport, credits his radio advertising campaign and its catchy jingle with doubling his sales in just one year. "When it comes to reach," says Mr. Libby, "radio is second to none."
Advertising On Portland Radio Delivers Qualified Customers
Cathy Manchester, a real estate agent based in Gray, Maine, has had similar results utilizing radio as part of her company's marketing mix. "When we began advertising on the radio several years ago," says Ms. Manchester, "our business doubled! We went from selling 100 homes a year to approximately 200 homes each year! Radio advertising continues to provide a steady stream of well qualified customers for us!"
Jon Goodman, who is the front man of Time Pilots, a Maine based wedding band also experienced accelerated growth when he started advertising on radio. "It would be fair to say," says Mr. Goodman, "that our wedding business has tripled."
Stacy Dodge, an owner of the Bill Dodge Auto Group with Maine locations in Westbrook, Saco, and Brunswick, also lets reality not perception guide her company's media and marketing decisions. "We have been using Portland radio as a primary marketing source for about 10 years now." said Ms. Dodge. "We have seen very measurable results and are able to target our audiences more effectively."
"We are also more effectively able to market specific brands to a specific audience which is sometimes harder, and more expensive, to do with other mediums, said Ms. Dodge. "Radio is a very cost effective way to get your message out to the people you want to hear it."
More Advice For Maine Small Business Owners
- 5 Facts Maine Business Owners Must Know About Portland Radio
- 7 Words Maine Business Owners Should Not Use In Ads On Portland Radio
- "Exposure" Is Not Reason Enough For Advertising On Portland Radio
- Maine Small Business: Using Portland Radio To Drive Website Visits