This came to us as a shock: Radio, a technology we had given up for dead, has an audience that is actually growing. AdAge picks up a Paragon Research poll that among 14-to-24 year olds, time spent listening to radio is up 11% while time spent listening to iPods is down 13%. Further confirmation of radio’s (modest) resurgence: The Radio Advertising Bureau says the overall audience for AM/FM listenting is up 3%, to 235 million weekly listeners.
Good news for radio fans, but enough to save a dying industry? No. Radio’s biggest advertisers (some two-thirds worth) are automakers and retailers — the very industries that will be hit hardest by the credit crunch.
So what’s to be done? Well, the radio industry is pushing its “Buy From FM” initiative. The idea is to bundle FM tuners into every portable music player sold, along with the technology to easily purchase songs you hear on the radio. Microsoft’s (MSFT) Zune is already a partner. But unless far-and-away market leader Apple (AAPL) signs on with its iPods — and we don’t see it happening — that’s another nonstarter.