It’s the Pareto Principle, a.k.a. “the 80-20 rule.” Like, 80% of beer is consumed by the top 20% of beer drinkers — its core consumers. Similarly, in radio, there’s no doubt that stations’ P1’s — who listen to them most — are crucially important.

That’s why we’ve taken a “deep dive” into the mindset of radio P1’s annually since 2012. This year’s P1 study is based on 1,104 online surveys of 18-64 P1’s  in the U.S., conducted September 8-9.

One thing we looked at is the level of preference listeners have for their P1 station. What we learned is: Nearly two-thirds of P1’s have a strong preference for the station they “listen to most”:

In your opinion, is [st’n listen to most]…
A LOT BETTER than other stations?        . 64%
A LITTLE BETTER than other stations? 33%
NOT BETTER than other stations?   2%
Don’t know   2%

(Note that we inserted the actual names of the stations respondents entered as the one they listen to most into the question, not the generic “station you listen to most.”)

We found no significant demographic differences in listeners’ responses. Younger, older, men, women…all answered pretty much the same in line with the numbers above.

Analyzing by format does show a few meaningful differences, though…

Christian radio P1’s hold the highest level of preference for their station.  Eighty percent of them think it’s a lot better than others.

Gold/Classic P1’s are also above-average in their preference, with 72% saying their station is a lot better, and only 24% rating it just a little better.

Adult Contemporary P1’s have notably lower-than-average preference.  Only around half (53%) credit their station with being a lot better, while nearly half (47%) say it’s just a little better.

The other formats’ P1’s we analyzed — CHR, Country, News/Talk, Rock, Urban, Sports — are all around average in their level of preference.

As far as the differences we find…regarding Christian radio (taking nothing away from their quality), it’s tough to compete with faith!

I suspect A/C’s weakness on this measure may be related to Gold/Classic’s strength…

Many traditional, gold-based A/C’s have dropped their oldest non-currents — ’70s or even ’80s  — to emphasize newer gold. I’m not suggesting this strategy is always wrong. But every action has a potential reaction, and I find this move often leaves some of their listeners behind…not all “jumping ship,” but feeling less served, less satisfied.

And where would some go to get the older music they’re missing? Well, Gold/Classic formats surely fill the void. This might in part explain the recent ratings surge of exclusively non-current pop and rock formats.

Back to the “big picture”…overall, radio is serving its P1 listeners well. Wednesday, we’ll begin to get into what makes their P1 stations better.