Proliferation Treatise (aka Counting the Devices)

One reason that listening hours per week per capita to Internet radio are increasing (according to both the annual Arbitron-Edison "Infinite Dial" study and easy math you can do with monthly Triton Digital press releases) and listening hours per week per capita to AM/FM radio seem to be declining (if you're an Arbitron subscriber, check Persons Using Radio (PUR) trends in your market) has got to be due to a number that is sneaking up on us: How many devices do we own that pick up each medium?

Let's do a quick count. I think the answer will be enlightening (or alarming, depending on which side of the fence you feel you're on nowadays):

Regarding the number AM/FM radios I own, even though I'm atypical in that I have lots of emotional connections to the Chicago stations I used to work at, and have friends that still work for various stations in town, my personal count is down:

I spent decades waking up to a clock radio with AM/FM, but my last Sony model went into storage about four years ago as I started using the alarm feature on my smartphone instead.

Like many of you, I used to have a great big stereo system (amplifier, AM/FM receiver, tape deck, CD player, and giant speakers), but that went away in pieces over the last decade as I ripped my CDs onto my iMac and replaced my TV sound system with a soundbar.

I used to have an FM Walkman of one type or another for running, but now, since I use the Nike Plus app on my smartphone for measuring my speed and distance, of course it makes sense to use the same device for accompanying music.

My parents have an AM/FM radio in their kitchen, atop the refrigerator, but I never picked up that habit.

Again, I'm atypical that, as a Chicagoan, I have "cut the cord" on car ownership thanks to an improved CTA (and apps that tell me when buses and trains are due), Uber (better and cheaper than taxis), and Zipcars (car rental by the hour), so no more AM/FM in the car in the garage since there's no more car.

I used to have a compact stereo system in my study, but its one-CD capacity seemed so old-school that it's in "temporary" storage somewhere, replaced by a speaker dock for my iPad.

Total household count: Down in the past decade from six or seven to either one (if I can find my missing iPod Nano, which has FM) or none.

Meanwhile, let's do the count of the number of devices in my household on which I can access Internet radio:

  • Current iPhone 4S
  • Older iPhone (used as alarm clock, etc.)
  • iPad (especially when paired with speaker dock)
  • Apple TV (attached to older TV)
  • PlayStation 3
  • New LG Smart TV (my big splurge of the season) 
  • Decrepit (but still plugged-in) HP Windows 7 PC
  • Seldom-used (due to hideously bad user interface) Dell Windows 8 touchscreen PC
  • Regularly-used iMac
  • Seldom-used laptop (as I transition to becoming a full-time tablet user)
  • Squeezebox Radio (purchased in 2011 but seldom used, as I prefer the iPad in the speaker dock).

So that's generously a 10:1 ratio in favor of Internet radios (of one form or another) over AM/FM radios.

As I said, I'm sure I'm atypical...but feel free try it yourself! And then try it with your parents, your siblings, your friends, and/or your in-laws.

I'll bet the general conclusion will be the same: More active Internet radios than AM/FM radios.

There are fads, and there are trends. (According to the marketing consultants Jack Trout & Al Ries, you want to avoid getting caught up in the former and take the latter seriously.)

This one is a trend.

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