Last week, 54,102 Americans died. Only a few of these passings received the attention of the New York Times. Obituaries featured in The Times are usually limited to luminaries and pioneers of politics, science, the arts, business, or for someone who provided heroic public service.
Two days, ago Jim Lowe died and it merited notice in the Times. Mr. Lowe was a radio DJ. Mr. Lowe, did not invent a life-saving drug or run a Fortune 500 company. But, Mr. Lowe earned a Times remembrance because he had millions of friends, most of whom he never met. But, none the less, these strangers felt a palpable sense of loss when they learned of Mr. Lowe's demise.
The affinity that existed between Mr. Lowe and his listeners is not unique. It also exists between thousands of other radio personalities across America and legions of unseen, un-met friends. And this is the reason 93% of everyone living southern Maine tunes into a Portland Radio station every week. It's all about the bond.
A study conducted at The University of California, Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism finds that 82% listeners have parasocial feelings for their favorite radio personalities. This describes the one-way friendship millions of listeners maintained with Mr. Lowe.
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. Lowes 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 is the quality of 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 articles, 7 Significant Digits Every Maine Small Business Owner Should Know, 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.
To leverage the relationships DJs have with their listeners, many Maine small business owners engage Portland radio personalities to endorse the companys' products and services during commercials. This includes local companies such as European Wax Center; Portland Mattress Makers; The Cathy Manchester Team at Keller-Williams; and Ocean Communities Federal Credit Union.
Here are examples of how these DJ endorsements sound.
Ocean Communities Federal Credit Union featuring Blake Hayes of Coast 93.1 in Portland, Maine.
Portland Mattress Makers featuring Eva Mattson from Coast 93.1
Cathy Manchester Team at Keller-Willams featuring Jon Shannon of WPOR
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