HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
April 26, 2011, noon

Internet radio might keep FM company, not kill it

You may have heard the worries of public radio leaders: When in-car streaming radio gets better, it’ll be a serious threat to all those stations built around a terrestrial FM signal. Is that true? Arbitron, the radio ratings authority, says one in five Americans (22 percent) is streaming audio on a weekly basis, and the number of people doing so in cars has nearly doubled from a year ago.

A study released yesterday by research firm knowDigital — based on interviews with about 30 heavy streamers in the Raleigh-Durham area who commuted a half-hour or more per day — found that listeners tend to stream Internet radio as a complement to, not a replacement for, AM/FM radio. Most report starting their listening day with terrestrial radio before switching to an Internet stream. And listeners tend to reserve Internet radio for longer drives, not five-minute trips to the dry cleaner. That would seem to corroborate a data point from an earlier Arbitron report: A whopping 89 percent of online radio listeners still used over-the-air radio.

Why? “They all still wanted to be connected to locale,” knowDigital president Sam Milkman said, a need that Pandora and Howard Stern can’t satisfy. Listeners in the study reported turning to FM radio for traffic, weather, news, and morning shows — the kind of local programming that public radio stations can still deliver. Ex-NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, in her advice to stations last week, said local programming will be the strongest way to remain competitive.

Moreover, many participants reported streaming traditional radio stations through their smartphones, even though the hassle-free FM equivalent is often available right there in the dashboard. Those participants said they preferred what they perceived as the higher quality of the static-free streaming version. “Get your app going,” Milkman advises local stations. “Sell the idea that you’re available anywhere, anytime.”

Finally, the listeners interviewed said they only wanted a handful of streams, even given the Internet’s endless choices. The researchers asked participants to pick 10 inputs for a mock car stereo. No one filled up all of the available slots; most programmed no more than five. The most popular presets were, in order: a smartphone, an FM radio station, an input for the consumer’s digital music library (e.g. an iPod), Pandora, and a second FM station.  “You better fight for your brand and your position right now,” Milkman said. “People aren’t going to program 27 presets on their dashboard.”

Photo by S. Diddy used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     April 26, 2011, noon
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
Journalist’s Resource sifts through the academic journals so you don’t have to. Here are 12 of the studies about social and digital media they found most interesting in 2014.
News in a remix-focused culture
“We have to stop thinking about how to leverage whatever hot social platform is making headlines and instead spend time understanding how communication is changing.”
Los Angeles is the content future
“Creative content people are frustrated with the industry and creating their content on their own terms. Sound familiar?”
What to read next
847
tweets
Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
429What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
“Nobody has to read you. You have to earn that. You have to respect people’s attention.”
343Come work for Nieman Lab
We have an opening for a staff writer in our Cambridge newsroom.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Bloomberg
The New York Times
Arizona Guardian
The Huffington Post
Reuters
Tumblr
The Miami Herald
TechCrunch
The Ann Arbor Chronicle
USA Today
ReadWrite
Storify