Dashboards Change But AM/FM Still Rates Best

Posted on Inside Radio: Monday, October 5, 2015 12:45 am

A survey conducted by Alan Burns and Associates that polled listeners about their in-car audio habits delivered some comforting comments regarding the status of local radio. The responses came during the Radio Show session “Dashboard Disruption for Programmers: How Can Local Radio Stay Strong in the Car?”

“Around my hometown, I listen to FM; for traveling long distances I listen to satellite or I stream,” said one. “I like Spotify and I have my favorite preset FM stations,” said another, and a third was, “If I feel like I’m getting behind on new music, I listen to FM stations.”

Stats provided by Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs further revealed that among the 11% of those who say they are in the market for a new vehicle within the next year, by far the most-wanted in-dash feature they request is AM/FM radio, at 89%. The categories that followed—smartphone connector, CD, bluetooth, GPS, wireless Internet connection, satellite radio, connected car, HD Radio, DVD player and a hard drive for media.

Jacobs noted that it’s essential for radio managers and salespeople to connect with local automotive dealers to drive home the positive messages. “Connect with the key players at local car dealerships and stop thinking of them as an advertising partner and think of them as a marketing partner. Remind your local car dealerships about the importance of AM and FM radio.”

Not all the perspectives were rosy, however. iPhone Bluetooth-connected listening was identified as arguably AM/FM’s biggest threat, and there was some registering of listener irritation with the repetition of ads.

Added Alan Burns, “The obvious point is that there are tons of options for listening in the car—and more coming down the road.” To remain relevant, “don’t take local for granted. Be focused on being all about what’s going on in the little bubble of your listeners. And don’t kill personality.”

Dave Beasing, PD of classic rock “The Sound” KSWD, Los Angeles agreed. “‘In car’ is the new ‘at work.’ The turf we have to defend now is in the car. Create unique, compelling, creative, local content and radio will be their companion. We can be a big part of people’s lives. They’ll find us in those dashboards and they’ll be really glad they did.”

Southern California Broadcasters Association White Paper Report

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