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Radio has always played a unique role within the Latino community beyond entertainment, serving as a trusted conduit of culturally relevant info on matters both at home and abroad. So it should come as no surprise that more than one-third of Latinos surveyed by Nielsen (37%) reported spending more time with radio as a result of COVID-19, compared with only 24% of White non-Hispanics.

The numbers are new breakouts from a custom study Nielsen conducted online from March 20-22 with a weighted sample of 1,000 online adults 18+.

Another 48% of Latinos reported that listening to their favorite radio personality helped them feel more informed and less stressed. “Emphasizing the importance of community connections and cultural collectivism, a full 45% reported that listening to their favorite radio host during COVID-19 made them feel more connected to their community,” Nielsen says in a new report, “Cultural Connectivity Transformed: How Latinos Are Connecting While Social Distancing.” And 36% of Latinos reported that during the pandemic, they looked for new ways to listen to their favorite radio station, personality or program, compared to 27% of the total market. The study found that 31% of Hispanics said they were listening to radio more at home, 29% were tuning in more on mobile devices, 18% were listening more to podcasts, 7% were streaming radio more on a computer and 18% more on a smart speaker. In contrast, 22% said they were listening to less radio in the car, likely due to stay-at-home orders in place during the custom survey fielded in late March.

Latinos “consistently turned to trusted radio personalities for information updates on COVID,” the report says.

As was the case across the total market, the percentage of radio listening occurring at home jumped dramatically during the pandemic. New data from Nielsen shows during COVID-19, in-home radio listening increased for Hispanics from 29% in March to 39% in April. That compares to a 29% to 42% rise for total market 18+ adults. While listening on the go tapered off during the onset of COVID-19, the decrease in out-of-home listening among Hispanics was smaller than the total market. Out-of-home listening among Hispanics fell from 71% in March to 61% in April compared to a 71% to 58% decline for the total market.

Nielsen attributes the smaller decline to the increased probability that Latinos are employed in high risk or front line work. “Whether they were essential workers or social distancing at home, 43% of Hispanics said that their favorite radio host made them feel less concerned and panicked and 42% said their radio host made them feel less alone,” the report says.

Hispanics have long over-indexed for radio usage and that trend continues during the pandemic. The growing population segment spends more than 12 hours a week listening to the radio, 33 minutes more than the total market.

As Latinos were more likely to be essential workers, COVID-19 gave them more time to explore podcast genres. As podcasts continue to gain in popularity, the data shows they serve as a complement to busy Hispanics who want a different avenue for entertainment. Among podcast listeners, 16% of Hispanics listen to podcasts every day, over-indexing the average podcast listener by 9%. Among the top platforms used by Hispanics for podcast listening are YouTube at 49%, iTunes/Apple Podcasts at 34%, Spotify at 30%, AM/FM radio at 20% and Pandora at 18%.

Seeking a balance of news and entertainment, the most popular genre among Hispanic podcast listeners is comedy at 57%, followed by news at 44% and society and culture by 40%. More than the total population, they over-index the most on the preference of music-related podcasts by 61% and health and fitness by 52%.