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One of the more unique sessions of the virtual Radio Show was a Backstage Conversation with Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs and VP/GM Paul Jacobs that included highlights from Zoom interviews with a dozen P1 listeners from stations across the country. The session was hosted by NAB Director of Education Josh Miely.

Had the Radio Show been held in Nashville or Las Vegas, it’s unlikely the firm would have been able to fly participants in for a live, causal session in front of an audience. It’s research with a small “r,” Fred Jacobs said as he introduced the pre-recorded clips from a recently held group session.

After learning of participants’ current work and at-home situation and their thoughts on the pandemic itself, Jacobs asked about their media habits, particularly if they have changed since the pandemic.

Seven out of the twelve said their media habits have indeed changed. One participant, who was wearing a KLSX-FM Phoenix t-shirt said he has been listening to radio more, especially when his work was halted early on in the pandemic. “I started listening to classic rock KSLX,” he said. After winning a contest on the station (perhaps the t-shirt) he said, “I became obsessed with the radio. I was listening literally 8-10 hours a day and I would try and call different stations to try and win different things.” He said it helped him pass the time when he was not working and winning “gave him a good feeling.”

Looking for relief from the same four walls, another participant would drive at night listening to the radio. “I would spend anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour in my car,” she recalled. “That whole time I was listening to the radio. While I did occasionally listen at night before, it was never like that.”

Another said he found himself listening to more talk radio while his wife (an ICU nurse) was away at work and he was home with their young children. “I kind of want more adult sort of stuff so I’ve been listening to more talk radio and listening to podcasts, which I wasn’t before.”

‘I Am No Longer Alone’

The companionship aspect of radio was echoed by others on the Zoom panel. A retired gentleman said, “I flip the radio on and I’ve got some ‘interruptions’ if you will.” He said the personalities talking on the radio, even the commercials, felt like, “a couple extra people that are with me and I am no longer alone.”

Listening to different stations as she travelled by car to visit client locations was a favorite of another panelist who used to fly regularly for her job. “A lot of times I tune into local radio stations to find out what is going on in the community,” she said. “And, just to get a breath of fresh air… a different perspective.” She said she also streams her local radio station while away, “The Drive” WDRV Chicago.

Only one of the participants had a working radio at home, however the majority listen to broadcast radio in the car, via mobile devices, station apps and on smart speakers. A participant who is a construction worker said he listens via a station app on the job site, at home and even in his car. “Even though I have the radio and can listen that way, I’ll keep [the station stream] on my phone and drive listening to that app,” he said. “I feel like I’m more engaged listening on the app than I was with the actual AM/FM.”

Seven out of the dozen participants said they have a smart speaker, with more than half of them owning an Amazon product.

“This group by and large, they’re P1s, they’re dialed-in, they get it,” Fred Jacobs told the Radio Show online audience. “But not everybody in the audience understands that you can listen to a radio station on smart speakers or that the radio station has an app that you can download to listen. It’s really important to communicate that.” It also underscores the importance of a radio station stream, “especially in these days of COVID when people are holed-up at home and may not have a radio around.”

Paul Jacobs said it’s noteworthy that this group “is device-agnostic. They talk about listening on an app or Alexa or Sonos or the radio… it’s totally fluid. It doesn’t matter.” – Jay Gleason