Neilsen’s latest “Total Audience Report” reveals that radio reaches 93% of adults 18 and older. But when I tell people I work in radio, I’m sometimes told “No one listens to radio anymore.” Ugh! It made me wonder about consumers’ actual perception of radio listening…

So, we asked them:

Think about the radio stations that broadcast on FM radio and AM radio. Many of them can also be listened to online or using smartphone apps. Around what percentage of Americans 18 and older would you guess listen to FM or AM radio stations during an average week? 

And based on 704 telephone interviews with 18-64’s in the U.S. conducted  July 1-5, their estimate of the percentage that listen to FM or AM during a typical week averages…

Are ya ready???

53%

In other words, consumers grossly underestimate radio listening! Fewer than 10% give radio credit for reaching 90% or more, and fewer than 20% think it reaches 80% or more.

The biggest single response – 12% – is that radio reaches only half of adults. One-third think it reaches fewer than half.  And 10% tell us that they don’t have any idea about radio’s reach. (At least they didn’t get it wrong.)

Less than 2% actually thinks no one listens to radio anymore — giving a response of zero percent. I’d guess those who say that are engaging in hyperbole. An assertion that everyone listens is much closer to reality, but far from conventional wisdom.

Clearly, our medium has a PR problem. “Perception is reality,” we know. So radio’s reality is that it’s great at marketing clients’ goods and services, but has fallen short marketing itself.