Australians are listening to more radio as a way of connecting during isolation

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 14 April 2020

The majority of Australians (72%) are listening to as much or more radio during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest audience analysis. 

Listening figures compiled by GfK and released by by Commercial Radio Australia show that radio gives people more connectivity to their community and is seen as a source of reliable information in a crisis. 

Almost a quarter (23%) of 18+ are now listening to more radio, with the greatest increases in listening seen in younger audiences.

Of people aged 18-34, 29% have increased their radio listening, as have 27% of people aged 35-44. This is compared to 20% of people aged 45-54, 15% of people aged 55-64 and 16% of people 65+. 

Commercial Radio Australia says audiences are increasingly looking to radio as a source of accurate, timely information. 68% say they see radio as a good source of information about COVID-19.

Radio presenters are also seen as providing an additional layer of authenticity and accuracy, with 63% of listeners saying they trust the information they receive from their favourite radio presenters.

Where and how people are consuming radio is evolving. A third of radio listeners (33%) are now listening to more radio at home, while listening at work remains stable.

While 23% of people say they have decreased their in-car listening, 18% in fact report listening to more than before, as social distancing requirements reduce travel via public transport.

When it comes to how they’re listening, growth is evident regardless of their choice of device. People listening to more radio via their respective devices include 52% of smart-speaker listeners, 32% of AM/FM listeners and 27% of DAB+ radio listeners.

“We have seen again and again that radio is an essential service with a vital role to play during emergency situations such as the one we are currently experiencing with COVID-19 and the recent bushfire crisis," says said Commercial Radio Australia chief executive officer Joan Warner.

"Beyond being a source of accurate and up-to-date information, radio is a source of comfort and connectivity for audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people in isolation or limiting social contact.

"In fact, 62% of listeners say that radio makes them feel less alone and 64% say that radio keeps them connected with their local community."

It’s not just radio that has seen changed audience listening habits. More than one in ten Australians are listening to more podcasts during the COVID-19 crisis.

The news and politics category accounts for 32% of podcast listeners, with comedy not far behind at 31%, reflecting the fact that many Australians turn to audio mediums such as radio and podcasts for information and as a source of escape during a crisis.

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