Uh Oh

Fair warning:


While terrestrial radio listenership declined in 2020, the audience for online audio has grown. NPR’s weekly podcast audience, for instance, nearly doubled in the past two years, from about 7 million in 2018 to about 14 million in 2020, according to data provided by the broadcaster. (NPR now makes more money from underwriting on its podcasts than its radio shows.) Around three-in-ten Americans ages 12 and older (28%) now say they listened to podcasts in the past week, according to “The Infinite Dial” report by Edison Research and Triton Digital.

A line graph showing the weekly terrestrial radio listenership

But after years of almost perfectly steady listenership, terrestrial radio (i.e., AM/FM) saw its overall audience – not just for news – decline in 2020. The decrease coincided with a sharp decrease in automobile use during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, 83% of Americans ages 12 and older listened to terrestrial radio, down from 89% in 2019 and 92% in 2009, according to Nielsen Media Research data published by the Radio Advertising Bureau.