Jacobs Media survey: "High-tech revolution continues" for public radio audience

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Issue Date: 
Jul 30 2012 - 12:55pm

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Media usage stats from PRTS4Jacobs Media's fourth annual survey of public radio listeners shows "the high-tech revolution continues," with big growth for mobile device ownership, the use of Internet radio, social networks and other digital services.

The fourth Public Radio Techsurvey (PRTS) found that nearly half (46%) of respondents listen to Internet radio weekly or more. That's up 16% from PRTS3, which was released in early 2011 (RAIN coverage here). Moreover, 18% use Pandora weekly or more (up 17% from PRTS3), while 14% use SiriusXM (up 5%). As for AM/FM, 87% say they listen to at least one hour per day. That's down 2% from PRTS3. 

More than half (52%) of public radio listeners said they own a smartphone -- a growth of 50% from PRTS3. Of those folks, more than 90% download apps. A little under a third of respondents (30%) own a tablet (up 407%). Of those who don't, 37% said they are very or somewhat likely to buy one this year.

Around half say they are able to connect a smartphone or mp3 player to their car and nearly 10% own a car with a "digital dashboard" like Ford's SYNC. That's a desirable platform for web radio -- and a dangerous one for AM/FM to lose -- as 41% of respondents say they do the majority of their radio listening in cars.

PRTS4Jacobs Media's study found "spectacular growth" in Twitter usage, with 18% of respondents using the service. That's up 57% from the previous study. A little over six in ten respondents (63%) have a Facebook profile. All told, 70% of respondents use social media in some way, up from 64% in 2010.

"The data from PRTS4 continues to point to the public radio audience rapidly using new media and gadgets in the pursuit of informing themselves," said Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs. "Station programmers and managers would do well to better understand the fast rate of adoption, and shape content offerings accordingly."

The fourth-annual PRTS involved 49 public radio stations across the U.S. and more than 30,700 respondents. You can find more information from Jacobs Media here.

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