TechSurvey 2021

Good news for public radio and the industry as a whole: the number one usage of smart speakers is to listen to radio. Long heralded as the return of radio to the home, three in ten core public radio listeners who participated in Jacobs Media “Public Radio in the COVID Era” Techsurvey 2021 say they own a smart speaker. Conversely, three in four have a working radio at home and when looking at Millennials, only 55% own a working radio at home.

During a webinar revealing details of the Techsurvey, President Fred Jacobs said, “Back in 2017, only 12% had a smart speaker. Then it shot up to 20% (in 2018) then 24% (in 2020) and now this year 30%.” Jacobs said smart speaker ownership is “better among triple A and news/talk fans, among men, Millennials and, of course, Gen X’s.”

And those who own one smart speaker, likely have another. “Now more than six of every 10 smart speaker owners have two or more of them,” he told attendees.

When asked what they listen to on their smart speaker, respondents from the online survey of 23,000 core public radio listeners, overwhelmingly said to listen to radio. “The number-one use case mentioned by four of every ten smart speaker owners is listening to a broadcast radio station on Alexa or their Google Home or a similar device,” Jacobs revealed. “That's up 3% from last year.”

In fact, they are listening to more radio now that they own a smart speaker. “12% say I've been listening to a little more AM/FM radio since I got a smart speaker, 11% say a lot more. In terms of those [listening] less, it's only 8%. So, the net on that is actually plus 15% for broadcast radio,” he explained.

The survey also shows that public radio is still a main source of discovery for music fans. “Two thirds of our overall sample have interest in new music and new artists,” Jacobs said. Respondents who are fans of adult alternative are “almost off the chart, almost every one of them interested in new music,” Jacobs continued.

The primary source for finding new music, respondents said, was “their radio station, or certainly a public radio station,” Jacobs said, “mentioned by the vast majority 54%.” That is a three percent increase from last year’s public radio Techsurvey.

Jacobs Media’s “Public Radio in the COVID Era” Techsurvey 2021 included responses from 22,858 public radio listeners surveyed online from June 25-July 25. Most respondents were members of station databases. While not representative of all public radio listeners, it offers directional insights from core users.

Download the complete report HERE.