Do people still listen to the radio?
I have been asked this question several times in the last few weeks by people both within and outside of agriculture. This question is being prompted by the news coverage of automakers that want to remove radio from the dashboard of vehicles and the efforts to stop this trend. Younger people, who are mainly digital consumers, thus get their music from Spotify, their news from Google, and their entertainment from TikTok, have little contact with over the air broadcasting, audio or video.
As I indicated in my last column, this is the case in urban areas where access to digital high speed broadband is ubiquitous. In places like Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne, Lafayette, South Bend, Evansville, and the like, high speed connectivity is to be had on your phone, in your home, and, certainly, in your car. This is not the case in many rural areas of Indiana which is better off than others in the South and West where rural broadband and even cell service is spotty at best.
Digital devotees like to tout figures on how much time people spend online and on all the wonderful things they can do in this space. Yet they scoff at data that shows how radio listening has not declined in rural areas — even with increased broadband access. The National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) has been conducting research on media usage for several decades. This data shows very little change in radio usage, even by younger listeners. In 2008, a survey of Indiana rural listeners showed that 90% were daily radio listeners. In 2022, 86% said they tuned in daily.
Local, over the air, radio stations — both AM and FM — reach people in their communities in a timely and efficient way. If you want to keep this free and vital resource in your dashboard or anywhere in your daily life, you need to speak up. Not only regulators and policymakers need to know but the people you do business with need to hear.
Radio is supported by advertising, both local and national. This is especially true for agriculture. So, feel free to share your support for your local radio station and their programs with those in your community and in your business relationships. It is important for rural America to raise its voice to insure we keep the airwaves alive.
That’s how I see it.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Hoosier Ag Today, its employees, advertisers, or affiliated radio stations.