Volume 9, Issue 1
Broadcasting class collects data on radio listeners
By Josh Murphy
Have you ever wondered how local radio stations decide how they are going to beat their competition and win the local audience? Adjunct Instructor Dan Patterson knows the answer is one word, “data.” Patterson’s students in Principles of Electronic Media and his radio production classes, collected data on radio listenership for a group of Lafayette radio stations. Determining listeners' preferences and patterns of listening were the two main goals of the study.
“We were interested in young men’s listening preferences – stations, formats, alternatives to radio – and their attitudes toward and experience with media research,” Patterson said.
He organized the study in two phases. Patterson began the process by recruiting focus groups. One focus group consisted of 18-to-24 year-old men who were not currently students. The other group consisted of students, with men and women participating. These audience members were interviewed about their listening habits in February with assistance from the radio production classes.
Results so far have determined that two-thirds of participants listen to less than three hours of radio per day, mostly while on the road. Also, students tend to be more likely to use alternative forms of audio media, including iPods and online streaming.
“Radio has a fighting chance against its competition,” noted Patterson. “But the alternatives are very real, and as prices drop on mp3 players, it will be interesting to see what happens.”
The second phase of the study involved phone surveys, with the Principles of Electronic Media class interviewing a sample of the general population of Lafayette. The results of both phases were combined into a report and presented to the client, Regent Broadcasting, on May 2, 2008.
Patterson said he gained more than just statistical knowledge from his experience in leading the study.
“I've also learned a lot about media research,” Patterson said. “And the students have gone out of their way to participate.”
Patterson said this study was well received by the radio group and will help their stations to be more in tune with the listening public.
“Basically we hope that this work will help our client to better serve their public,” Patterson said. “Also, the results could help out the academic community's understanding of listening habits, and how new media are affecting radio.”