One-of-every-four adult consumers in Maine listen to country music on Portland radio. According to Nielsen-SCB, this is more people than tuned-in to any other format.
This might come as a surprise to many Maine small business owners who grew up on a steady diet of rock-and-roll or top 40 stations over the years. The reality is, though, last week 190,632 adults tuned-in to a Portland country music station. Stations such as perennial favorite WPOR or WTHT, aka "The Wolf".
What might be even more surprising, especially to some advertisers, is the type of people who listen to country music radio. Today's country music audience is dramatically different than when the fore-runner of the "Grand Ole Opry" was first broadcast in 1925.
Ninety-three years ago, a Nashville radio station created a weekly program called the WSM Barn Dance. This show inserted three hours of live 'farmer music' into the station's typical fare of classical music and other high-brow features fed to them from New York by NBC.
According to American Public Media, 'farmer music' was "a grab bag category of fiddle music and old pop tunes that were so far behind the time that they had become folk songs."
In 1927, as a populist dig at NBC's Metropolitan Opera programming, The Barn Dance's creator, John D. Hay, changed the show's name to The Grand Ole Opry. The Opry, still on the air, has become the longest running show in radio history.
The Opry brought country music in a big way to radio. Today, there are more than 1800 country stations in America, including two in Portland, Maine.
In 2018, the Maine consumers who listen to country music on Portland radio are hardly the dirt-farmers who tuned-in to the Opry in 1927. Today's country music listeners are among the most attractive consumers for Maine small business owners who depend on radio to advertise their goods and services.
Here's what the country music audience in southern Maine looks like:
- 47.2% have a household income of $75,000 or more, which outperforms the general population.
- 5% more likely to hold white collar jobs than the general population
- 12% more likely to be employed full-time than the general population
- 14% more likely to hold management jobs than the general population
- 29% more likely to buy a BMW than the general population
- 7% more likely to visit an upscale restaurant than the general population
This information might be surprising to some Maine small business owners. But it sometimes even shocks
“The stereotypes about the country music listener are that they’re rural, they’re downscale, and they’re not very tech-savvy, but our research shows that that’s all bunk,” Chris Ackerman of Coleman Insights a music research firm told Forbes magazine.
“The country music audience is largely suburban, a mix of white- and blue-collar, and a lot more affluent than even the country industry itself thought. They’re a much more attractive target for marketers than might have been perceived.”
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