iHeartMedia is extending the daily air time of more than 65 of its morning shows across the country by at least an extra hour. The company says the move is in response to positive listener feedback for the concept and rising consumption of on-demand versions of its morning shows during the COVID-19 crisis.
The expansion includes five nationally-syndicated programs: “Elvis Duran and The Morning Show,” “The Breakfast Club,” “The Bobby Bones Show,” “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” and “Big Boy’s Neighborhood.”
The company says it has received increased demand for the shows through daily call-ins and social media feedback during the coronavirus pandemic.
In making the announcement, iHeartMedia noted some of its earlier released findings that show an increase in podcast listening since most Americans have been forced to remain at home in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. iHeart says it has noticed an uptick in the on-demand podcasts category with the Top 5 on-demand shows up 9% month-to-date, including podcasts from Elvis Duran and “The Breakfast Club.” In addition, with consumers spending more time at home, iHeartRadio usage across digital platforms has seen an overall increase in smart speakers – for some (Sonos) as high as 57% – 60% on web and 35% through smart TVs, the company says. Social engagement with on air personalities has increased 19%.
“Given the amount of positive feedback our stations were receiving from their listeners, our on air talent began asking them if they should stay on air longer in the mornings – and the response was incredible; for example, Elvis Duran received more than 65,000 likes and more than 12,000 comments when he asked his social media followers about extending his morning show,” Chief Programming Officer Tom Poleman said in a release. “This listener feedback, combined with the data we are seeing with our on-demand shows, is a testament to the connection that our radio personalities have with their listeners, and the fact that broadcast radio still holds such a unique place in American culture especially during a time of crisis. These on-air voices are trusted friends with close emotional connections to their listeners, and they inspire their communities; and help them cope with anxiety and concern; and provide entertainment and stress relief.”
The one-hour extension of the 65-plus morning shows in 50 markets rolled-out Tuesday, April 7.
“We immediately felt a difference on the phones and the level of engagement through the calls, and just the constant commenting on how great it is to be able to still hear you on the air,” Poleman told Billboard.
Separately, Hubbard hot AC “101.9 FM The Mix” WTMX Chicago has shifted the times for “Eric in the Morning.” The program, hosted by Eric Ferguson, will air 7-11am, for what is described as a one-week experiment, beginning Monday, April 13. Additionally, a one-hour replay of the show will air weekdays at 5:30pm, according to Chicago media reporter Robert Feder.