Latest NewsCelebrating radio's staying power on this World Radio Day

Celebrating radio’s staying power on this World Radio Day

The way radio is listened to has changed, now omnipresent across a multitude of platforms and devices, but it remains the number one reach medium when it comes to audio.

According to Fall 2019 Numeris data, supplied by Radio Connects, radio’s weekly reach in Canada actually went up 1% year-over-year to 27,641,015 with listeners 12+, reaching 13,104,125 listeners a week in the coveted A25-54 demo.

“As audio is consumed on more devices, that listening is being captured,” explained Caroline Gianias, President, Radio Connects, who believes that radio is still likely under-represented in mobile device listening as Numeris works toward a headphone measurement solution.

Gianias says while other media sectors have experienced more dramatic digital disruption, the loyalty of radio listeners has helped drive stability in the sector. She also sees the rise of podcasting as a way to extend the station brand.

“Radio listeners are loyal because they feel connected to a familiar voice, someone who is part of their day, their routine. That is a powerful relationship, and a podcast by a favourite on-air person allows that relationship to extend beyond the time spent listening on the drive to work, while at work, or while people are out and about. And advertisers are leveraging the incredible influence on-air talent has, which is amplified in podcasts, to support their brands.”

Gianias says while traditional screen-based media has been competing with digital media for share of attention to screen time, the same has not been true for radio, with smart speakers, station apps and podcasts expanding how listeners are connecting with radio. She maintains that radio isn’t as threatened by the rise of music streaming services as some would believe.

“While platforms and devices may have changed how and where we listen to audio, the reality is these platforms are really another way for people to consume their personal music, whether through their own digital library or a curated play list from a music subscription service. That’s not new – think back to the 8-track players in cars, cassette players, massive boom boxes, the CD and of course the first Sony Discmans. Personal music has always been around,” said Gianias. “Unlike radio where people connect to what’s going on around them, personal music – however it’s consumed, allows people to disconnect and tune out, it’s very much a background, lean back experience, something people used to say about radio. But the reality is that radio is very much a lean-forward experience because people are choosing to tune in and listen, vs. hit play and tune out.”

Dwayne Winseck, Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, with a cross appointment at the Institute of Political Economy, Carleton University, leads the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project which annually undertakes a data-driven analysis of Canadian media.

Winseck agrees that radio’s staying power is a testament to the connection listeners have with the medium.

“While other media have either thrived or are now being buffeted badly by changes in how people use media, technology and markets, radio has stayed remarkably stable over the long run and still plays an integral role in people’s life,” said Winseck. “In many ways, radio is an exemplar of mobile media — there with us when we move about our daily lives but also a fixture we turn to with a steady routine that belies the importance it has played in people’s lives around the world for nearly a century.”

Celebrated annually on Feb. 13 since 2012, World Radio Day marks the anniversary of the day the United Nations established United Nations Radio in 1946.

The theme of UNESCO World Radio Day 2020 is diversity. Read our feature, here.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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