TechSurvey 2022: Radio Personalities Drive Radio Listening More Than Music

Younger generations find new music elsewhere

Posted: May 12, 2022

The origins of Jacobs Media’s TechSurvey date back to the early 2000s, when Fred Jacobs sensed an increasing amount of change in the technology space affecting broadcasters. He was onto something big. And the rise of technology and the influence on media consumption has only grown since then.

Jacobs, president of Jacobs Media, says listening habits and how devices like the smartphone and digital audio platforms affect those habits must be understood by broadcasters to stay competitive.

This week’s release from TechSurvey 2022 shows how technology continues to influence the listening habits of survey respondents as well as how personalities continue to overtake music in attracting mainstream radio listeners.

TechSurvey pie charts from 2022 study show people are moving away from radio to discover music. “But radio personalities really come into their own and eclipse music as the main reason people listen to radio,” Jacobs said.

The latest TechSurvey shows that 62% of respondents say DJs/hosts/shows are the reason they choose radio, compared to 55% who say music played by their favorite station. And this separation grows.

The stats have flip-flopped since 2014, when Jacobs started asking the question. Data from this very first year showed that favorite songs/artists were the top preference at 70%, with personalities remaining at 55%. The lines on the chart intersect at the beginning of 2019.

“It’s a trend. These lines move away from each other. It is something that is happening on a global scale. The personalities became more important than the music,” Jacobs said. “Women tend to connect to personalities more than men. And this personality preference is particularly clear in certain formats, such as CHR and Sports. The stations benefit from this closer link with personalities.

As illustrated in the 18and Annual TechSurvey, Jacobs says respondents who say AM/FM is the go-to choice for discovering new music are trending down.

It’s also a question of generation, says Jacobs. Gen Z (22%) is less likely than Baby Boomers (38%) to use radio for their music discovery activities.

“Of the 76% of respondents who say they are interested in new music/new artists and who use radio as their main source, they back off. It’s clear that as the years pass, radio becomes less relevant for new music and discovering new artists,” he says.

Even more dramatic is the noticeable drop in the number of people saying new music is the reason they listen to the radio when comparing data from TS 2014 to the latest survey. This percentage drops from 39% to 23% in TS 2022.

This is the second in a series of stories examining the results of TechSurvey 2022. Click here to read part one.


Randy J. Stine has spent the past 40 years working in audio production and broadcasting news on radio. He joined Radio World in 1997 and covers new technologies and regulatory issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.

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