National Listener Survey

Matt Balogh opened our second plenary with some startling statistics conducted by McNair Ingenuity Research. Balogh had only half an hour to present, explain and justify the results of The National Listener Survey that outlined the nation’s listening behaviours and engagement.

The study can be found here.

But for those of you afraid of hyperlinks or suffering from lazy apathy (reading surveys is hard), I’ve sifted through the material and decided to post the most interesting statistics for your convenience.

How many people are listening?
4,446,000 people listen to community radio every week (that’s up to 25% of population)
10,611,000 people are occasional listeners to community radio (that’s, like, over double 4,446,000)

Why are they listening?
The number one reason for community radio’s survival is to hear local information and local news. The second is to support and listen to local artists and bands, and Australian artists.

How often are they listening?
The average time spent listening to radio is 14.1 hours per week.

The most common times to listen in are:
57% listen at breakfast
55% mid-morning
55% drive
46% afternoon
30% evening
10% overnight

Who is listening?
There are strong results in the complex market of metro capital cities. Given the saturation of media content, easy access and significantly more convenient broadband, these prove very positive results.

This year’s survey has served a greater sample size. In 2012, an interlaced method was adopted, and the survey integrated online techniques, in conjunction with the more tradition form of telephone calls. Balogh outlined this is an adaptive method and will constantly change.

Comparatively, the sample size for this year was nearly 10,000, up from around 5,000 the previous year.

What do people think of community radio?
95% of people say that community radio is valuable.
About half said VERY valuable.
The other half said SOMEWHAT valuable.
Women were more likely to say “VERY” valuable over “SOMEWHAT”, whereas men were more likely to say “SOMEWHAT” than “VERY”.

What type of radio are people accessing?
92.6% access AM/FM
53% access Online
33% access Podcast
6.6% access FM & Digital
0.8% access Digital Only

How reliable is this research?
There is a consistency between the results found in this survey and that of the Nielson ratings survey. There are slight differences, but for the most part very similar figures. Overall, it is a validated measure of our audience.

Panel Discussion

Following Balogh was a panel discussion based around the current state of community radio. The discussion was to be based around such questions as: “Where does community radio fit in the converging media environment? How does community media reflect community interests & attitudes? What makes it unique?”

On the panel for discussion was:

Juliet Fox– Special projects coordinator at 3CR
Bryce Ives – former General Manager of SYN
Tiger Bayles – General Manager of 98.9
Nicola Joseph – CEO of Community Media Training Organisation

Perhaps one of the most emphasized points from the panel is that community radio has somewhat lost its way.

“One area that we’ve fallen back in … is great, alternative talk,” Nicola Joseph says. “What is our sector doing about Closing The Gap? What are we doing as a very strong part of the media in the national conversation? … We’re not doing anything…”

The gap is, of course, the difference between what commercial radio and media has to say and what local communities need to hear.

Nicola Joseph suggests we have embraced the way of commercial radio, proposing this transition occurred about 10 years ago. Joseph emphasizes the fact that less people are listening to commercial radio. She advises the audience to abandon the commercial form because “that form is done”.

Bryce Ives states, “My favourite content maker is… William Shakespeare. His content was incredible. He understood the platform and rigorously investigated platform and form.” Ives suggests we need to ask ourselves what stories we’d like to tell. How can I best tell this story? What is the form that I can tell this story? He encourages us to rigorously and continuously investigate platform.

Ives continues to say, “most of the stories being told in the media are unauthentic and boring… we don’t need to follow anyone else.” He then suggests that “content has to come from an authentic places; more specific, more local, more multi-layered.”

Ives discourages users to avoid trying to tell huge, national stories, and further emphasizes that local stories can be told, and are the most relevant and interesting to listeners. In regards to platform, he encourages users to ask themselves: “What are you doing with content to make innovation happening?”

Juliet Fox further supports these claims by stating, “There’s such potential for our sector to approach stories in new ways… but how are we actively seeking some social change and social justice?”

“I have an obligation to report on national issues for my mob” states Tiger Bayles, whose show surrounds and approaches issues faced by the Indigenous community in a different way to commercial media.

“If your station isn’t telling stories, you’re not actually doing your job” says Bryce.

SYN Education and Training Manager, JB, asks, “how do we make ourselves more accessible to the general community (as content producers)?” in reference to the prevalence of white middle class citizens with disposable income involved in community radio.

In response is Juliet Fox, who states, “One of the things (At 3CR) that we really try, and support programmers to do, is actually seek out people who aren’t just the spokesperson for this, or spokesperson for that.” She encourages attempts to try and “do project work, where you give people a hit of access, with the hope that they get a great opportunity out of it, and the listener gets a good story out of it, and hope that they return in some way.”

In response to enquiries around live streaming, Nicola Joseph encourages us to ask: How do I deliver my story? “Streaming is just a vehicle … for live broadcasting.” She urges others to adapt “our content (so that it is) available in as many ways as possible.”

Juliet Fox, towards the end of the panel discussion re-visits the earlier topic surrounding social change and social justice, stating, “I think the social change issue can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts.” She present the argument that your show or story does not necessarily need to present an argument, or a political stance, but instead remarks that your involvement in democratic communication provides social change, just by fulfilling that role as a democratic communicator.

Jonathan Brown suggests that SYN could benefit from creating more consistent online content and podcasts.

Written by Michael Kean

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