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A surprising Gen Z story: Smartphones and AM/FM

In a webinar yesterday, Megan Vartan (Edison Research) and Jayne Charneski, Front Row Insights & Strategy), presented Radio’s Roadmap to Gen Z Listenership, a consumer survey of the so-called  Zoom Generation. Zoomers, of Gen Z, are true digital natives aged 13-24. 

Two results of the survey might seem to represent a contradiction, or at least contradict some presumptions about young people and traditional radio:

  • Over half (55%) of 13-24 year-olds in the U.S. are reached by AM/FM radio daily.
  • Gen Z listeners spend 58% more of their total share of time listening to streaming audio than the average 13+ population.

So, a young population that streams it listening much more than average across the entire population, also is widely reached by AM/FM radio.

As is often revealed in measurement of AM/FM reach, the counterpoint is less time spent. In this study: “Gen Z listeners spend 50% less of their total share of time listening to AM/FM radio than the average 13+ population.” The study also revealed that most AM/FM listening by Zoomers happens in the car — persistently a key listening environment for broadcast radio. The data show that traditional radio receivers (as in cars) deliver most of the Gen Z listening to AM/FM. 

  • The research drilled into why Zoomers like radio. Here are some of hte pleasure points:
  • radio provides a human connection, particularly during quarantine
  • radio offers the surprise of songs that have not been curated in streaming playlists
  • radio is a source for additional information about music and artists
  • radio is a source for news and information
  • radio is associated with nostalgia and good memories 

This research is part of Edison’s Share of Ear, an ongoing subscription project. This particular dataset was culled in Q1, and does not include any survey results collected during COVID-19 restrictions.

Brad Hill

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