Mark Arum: Less Than 10% Of Our Audience Listens on AM Radio
“The decline of AM radio listenership has been substantial.”
The potential demise of AM radio has been a hot-button issue in news radio circles, despite a recent victory with Ford announcing it would resume placing the band back into its 2024 models. 95.5 WSB host Mark Arum noted that while AM radio has been an important part of the station’s past, it doesn’t hold much weight in 2023.
“WSB Radio is 101 years old. You’ve heard amazing stuff on AM 750 throughout the years,” Arum said, as the station played the clip of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.
“So many amazing and historical moments happened on AM 750. Now, I know the majority of you are probably listening to the FM stream at 95.5 online or on the app. There’s a million ways to do it. The decline of AM radio listenership has been substantial. I believe, at last check, less than 10% of our listeners listen on our AM signal. The future of AM radio has been in doubt,” Arum said.
“I am an unabashed lover of AM radio. I used to listen with a little transistor radio underneath the covers. I’ve been fearful of the future of AM radio.”
Jeffery Gilbert of Newsradio WWJ 950 in Detroit joined Arum to discuss the situation, and when asked if the move to remove AM radio from vehicles was a political one, he said that was a shortsighted view.
“I think it’s a money issue, not a political issue. Because carmakers are always looking for every cost advantage they can get. It’s why you don’t see CD players in vehicles anymore. They cost money, they add weight, and people don’t want them anymore. I think Ford was getting a little ahead of everybody else, feeling that AM radio was something like that, that it was something they could get rid of easily…Quite frankly, until we as broadcasters give people a lot more on AM, it’s going to continue to be an issue.”
Bob Pittman: iHeartMedia Won’t Be Shutting Down Broadcast Stations
“90% of Americans listen to iHeart broadcast radio stations every month. To put that in context, the biggest TV network reaches less than 40% of Americans and the big streaming music services reach less than 30%.”
Very few large broadcasting corporations adopted digital platforms as quickly as iHeartMedia did. iHeartRadio is one of the most popular platforms for streaming content from a variety off stations. Bob Pittman says that does not mean the company does not see plenty of value in traditional broadcast radio.
Lydia Moynihan of The New York Post spoke with the iHeartMedia CEO Friday morning. She asked Pittman if he could foresee a day when the company would be done with terrestrial radio and focus solely on digital products.
“To the contrary – the strength and foundation of our company is our broadcast radio stations,” Pittman responded. “90% of Americans listen to iHeart broadcast radio stations every month. To put that in context, the biggest TV network reaches less than 40% of Americans and the big streaming music services reach less than 30%.”
He added that any success that the company has seen with podcasting or streaming is clearly linked to the success of the its radio stations. He said that is true for its live events too.
“We use that massive and unique reach of our broadcast radio to build complementary products like the iHeartRadio digital service and our major events like the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the iHeartRadio Music Awards and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour, and it’s why we’re the #1 podcast publisher by a lot. It all starts with using the trusted voices on our broadcast radio stations and creating demand – and with our unparalleled reach we have quite an advantage over the other audio players, regardless of their cash war chests.”
Buffalo, Chicago, Milwaukee Top Markets for AM Radio
“The study shows thirteen markets that have at least 40% of listeners using AM radio. Ten of them are in the Midwest.”
Nielsen has looked at information from the 2022 fall book to determine where AM radio is the most popular. The company released a list Thursday of 141 markets where at least 20% of radio listeners tune to AM radio in a given month. Cities in the Great Lakes region are all at the top of the list.
In Buffalo, 56% of radio listeners use the AM band in a month. The market’s most-listened to stations are both AM stations owned by Audacy – news/talk WBEN and sports talker WGR. Neither has an FM simulcast.
There is a tie for second place. 48% of listeners in Chicago utilize AM. Popular news stations WGN and WLS are both only available on AM as is the market’s heritage sports talk brand, 670 The Score. Milwaukee is the other market with 48% of listeners using AM radio.
AM radio remains very popular in the Midwest. The study shows thirteen markets that have at least 40% of listeners using AM radio. Ten of them are in the Midwest.
Last month, Nielsen used numbers from the 2022 Fall book to show that across the country, more than 82 million people rely on AM radio during a month. That is a third of all terrestrial radio listeners.
A hearing on Sen. Ed Markey’s AM For Every Vehicle Act is scheduled for Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Fox News Radio Reportedly Facing Cutbacks
“Freelance shifts still exist on the network and current freelancers have been offered other opportunities over the weekend. Staff employees were not impacted.”
According to All Access, Fox News Radio is tightening the belt a bit. Job cuts and staff reassignments are on the way.
Most of the effected positions are filled by freelancers. Reporters and fill-in hosts could be effected.
“Fox News Audio has reduced the number of freelance shifts and adjusted its workflow on weekends,” a source told Perry Michael Simon. “Freelance shifts still exist on the network and current freelancers have been offered other opportunities over the weekend. Staff employees were not impacted.”
One full-time staffer has confirmed that he is out. News anchor Kerin McCue had been with Fox News Radio since 2012. He told All Access that he will exit some time this month. The report does not say if that is the result of these cutbacks or McCue’s own decision.
The network does have a lower-cost plan for the weekend. Some repurposed content from SiriusXM’s Fox News Headlines 24/7 will fill newscast slots.