When it comes to news, music, and entertainment, there was once a time when radio was king. However, times have changed and radio listenership has changed with it, especially over the course of the pandemic.

So how are Americans engaging with radio in 2022? 

New CivicScience data reveal that  59% of U.S. adults listen to live radio at some cadence, with the highest percentage listening in the early morning, from 6-9am.

In the past year, listenership has changed. Almost half of U.S. adults who listen to the radio, 44% to be precise, have changed their listening habits over the last 12 months. 

So what do those shifts look like? 

More than one-third of listeners who have changed habits say they are listening to the radio less often. While not surprising given how drastically lives have changed over the past two years, this figure is still pretty dramatic.

Other standouts are 20%, on the other hand, say they’re listening to the radio more often, and 20% also say they are live streaming radio more often.

3 Insights About Listening Less

Working From Home (or Not At All)

While there are countless factors that could play a role in creating these shifts, there’s certainly a link between work situation and radio listening, as people who report listening to the radio less are more likely to be out of work or working remotely compared to their counterparts. Perhaps people working in person have the radio on while in the workplace or during their commute, while non-workers (and remote workers) are focusing their attention on another streaming option, or aren’t listening at all due to changes in routine.

News Coverage Satisfaction is High

Just because some Americans have reduced the amount they’re tuning into the radio, however, doesn’t mean they’re unhappy with news coverage in general. In fact, those who are listening less are actually more likely to be happy with recent current events coverage.

Young Folks

When it comes to age, younger people are slightly more likely to be listening less than not.

Does an Uptick in Listening Drive Unhappiness?

Radio listening could impact overall emotional wellbeing. As the data show, those who are listening to the radio more often are twice as likely to report unhappiness.

The Future of Work (and Live Streaming)

Given the earlier correlation between work and listening time, it felt necessary to take a closer look at how these two experiences may go hand-in-hand. 

Work preferences and routines among office workers have shifted hugely over the last two years. CivicScience data reveal that 40% of American office workers would like a hybrid work environment, with the ability to go into the office and to work from home. Another 37% want to exclusively work from home, and less than a quarter would prefer to solely work from the office. The data goes to show that a traditional 9 to 5 setting is a thing of the past.

Increased listenership via live streaming is up driven by remote workers as well as office workers–further strengthening the notion that work and radio listening are two peas in a pod.  

That said, those who have been listening to streaming radio more are also the most in favor of the flexibility of a hybrid work option.

As Americans create new work routines in this era of the new normal, radio will need to adapt to stay relevant. After all, with so many listeners preferring a hybrid work environment, radio won’t be able to rest on the office radio listeners alone, but will need to continue seeking new ways to reach listeners’ ears, wherever and whenever they choose to tune in.