Brian Wright “In Car Listening”

brian_wright4It was about 5 years ago I did study of how people use radio in their car by using an In Car-Video camera. It was rather alarming but parallels the recent study done by Edison Media Research. A large percentage of people in your market spend a great deal of time in their cars. Edison Media Research tells us that about 85% of workers travel to work by themselves.

The big question has always been; How often do drivers switch radio stations and why? We found, as did Edison Media Research, that listeners changed stations for many reasons and far more often than we’d like. The two primary reasons were commercials and songs they didn’t like for whatever reason. The Edison Media Research Study found terrestrial broadcast listeners switched stations an average of 22 times per 35 minute commute in each direction! If there was ever a stronger case made for compelling content and music research, I don’t know when that would have been? Our study showed about 7-9 switches but the average commute was about 15 minutes. Our study showed one of our biggest competitors in the car was the mobile phone. When a person received a call the first thing they would do is turn the station down or off and many times they would not turn it back on for 3-5 minutes after the call was done.

The bottom line is that more and more people are listening to your radio station while in the car, a place where they are always focused on other things. You don’t have their undivided attention or their undivided loyalty either. We need to understand our platform and deliver great content accordingly. We can’t simply copy and paste trivia questions, rehash some pop culture and call it good…because that’s not good! You have no room to coast or take a break or two off. Often we get so caught up in our radio procedures and structure that we lose sight of the real-world environment of our listeners. To us radio is understood as a huge part of our lives, both professionally and socially. To the average listener we are more like a common utility, like a light switch. They just don’t think that much about it. Many in radio have a hard time believing this because they only hear from the very small vocal minority of their heavy P1 users.

Be great all of the time. You are trying to win over the hearts and minds of people you can’t see, you don’t know, you never hear from, you don’t really know what they are thinking, they could be anywhere, you will never meet them and they really aren’t thinking about you. If you are going to make this relationship work you have to be better than you have ever been at any relationship in your life!     


Brian is a 30 year radio veteran who has successfully served many companies over the years as Program Director, Operations Manger and VP of programming. After many years of success working for individual radio stations and clusters, Brian Joined one of the most trusted consulting firms in the country, Audience Development Group. For the last 15 years Wright has enjoyed building alliances with scores of stations in the US & Canada helping them grow in ratings and revenue.  Contact Brian at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *