I've Got Good News, And I've Got Bad News
October 4, 2013
By John Frost
Goodratings Strategic Service
Which would you like first?
I'll give you the bad news.
Total listening to radio in the 30 PPM markets has declined by more than 13% since 2010.
My friend Mark Ramsey reiterates, "If you believe in the veracity of PPM – especially when aggregated across many markets and numerous time periods – the conclusion is unavoidable: Overall usage to radio is declining."
That kind of "sky is falling" data report would make anyone wonder how there could be any good news. Well, there is!
It's obviously good news that Christian radio listening is increasing even though overall radio listening is on the decline. There are two ways to look at it.
A decade ago Arbitron reported that there were more "religious" stations but with fewer listeners than any other format. Maybe there was no place to go but up!
I'd prefer to think that this growth has been fueled by more and more stations embracing:
- Strategic programming principles that drive success (see the previous 172 programming tips)
- Having a better understanding of the listeners' perceptions and preferences, and
- The investing in the training of programmers and air talent.
While the chart only includes non-commercial Christian radio stations in larger markets there is no doubt that we'd also see an increase if we included all commercial Christian stations like KLTY, The Fishes in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Portland, CRISTA's Spirit stations in Seattle and Austin, and The River in Columbus; all experiencing record audiences. Just last week three of the stations we work with hit #1 in their respective markets; simply unheard of just a few years ago!
Yes, most radio is experiencing an overall decline in listenership. But while mainstream broadcasters run a foot race to irrelevance through consolidation, voice tracking, or cookie-cutter formats, we in Christian radio have an opportunity that has never been greater.
In the words of my friend Gary Morland "I love this format because it can be about the things that are most important to people. It can be the most relevant, meaningful thing on the radio. It makes radio a difference-making job."