We’ve heard all the doomsayers. “Listeners don’t care about radio,” “Millennials hate radio,” “Pandora will kill radio as we know it,” etc.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

We’ve seen how wrong in previous ListenerThink research — like our Fall P1 study, when we found that radio delivers emotional benefits to listeners beyond music, news, sports, etc., and when 70% agreed that if they couldn’t listen to radio, something very important would be missing from their lives.

Now, we’re looking at listeners’ engagement with radio from another angle…not what would happen if radio went away altogether, but on a more specific basis — what happens when a station they like changes.

What brought this to mind was my own work — research that guides stations to better ratings, sometimes requiring dramatic format changes. Most recently, a client changed format from one that excelled among 45-and-older listeners to one that focuses on 18-44’s.  There was a major emotional backlash among those left behind, who went online to express feelings like: “I am so upset,” “I’m in mourning,” “This is a blow…very depressing,” and some even threatening bodily harm to station execs! 

So, in an online survey we conducted last month among 1009 18-64 year olds in the U.S., we asked how much they agree or disagree with the statement:

It upsets you when a station you like changes format.  
AGREE STRONGLY 44%
AGREE SLIGHTLY 40%
DISAGREE SLIGHTLY 11%
DISAGREE STRONGLY   5%
Don’t know   0%

Dig it…an overwheming majority of 18-64’s agree that a format change would upset them, even if it’s only on a station they like…not necessarily their favorite. Close to half agree strongly!

From a demographic perspective, 35-44’s agree the most…89% 0f them agree, 55% agree strongly. By age, 18-24’s agree least, but even then, 80% agree, 32% strongly. Most indifferent are 18-24 men…still, 70% agree, 26% strongly! From a format perspective, the P1’s of Oldies/Classic Hits stations (89% agree, 61% strongly) and Rock stations (89% agree, 59% strongly) would be most upset when a station they like changes format.

Think listeners don’t care??? Think again.