Corona Coverage Will Boost Radio Listening

Radio will play an important role in the battle against Corona Virus. RadioAnalyzer has decided to help clients for free.

The signs are in the data already: the public is turning to radio for help and information during this developing Global health crisis – and we need to make sure we supply what they need.

To aid radio stations aligning their content with what their listeners want, RadioAnalyzer is offering clients free data analytics to determine which parts of their Corona information is working best and how to make it even better and more relevant.

We are doing this partly to play our part in the Global initiatives to help fight the virus, and partly to help a volatile industry in risk of getting battered by decreasing advertising spend.

How radio stations deal with this subject can have an impact on how the bottom line will look come the end of the year, so today is the time to act rather than tomorrow. Knowing this, we will reach out individually to our clients over the next few days to help, but we can also offer some general advice for radio stations after taking a dive into the first available numbers.

  • Talk about what is happening locally. While global views might help to put things in perspective, what really matters to listeners are the numbers and implications “from here”.
  • Stay away from sensationalism. People need a soothing voice.
  • Information about “what is happening now” works much better than hypothetical talks with experts about “what could happen”. Slice-of-Life interviews with the people affected are especially effective.
  • Act like a friend: offer advice and instructions.
  • Just because the information is old news for you, doesn’t mean it is for a listener.
  • Don’t clear the clock to go all-talk. Listeners need a break too.

News is booming

These insights come from data across markets, stations, and countries – some things just seem universally important. To underline how this can change your listener habits, we zoomed into four large European stations, and how their audience changed their response to their hourly news over the past 2,5 months.

The results are clear and to the point: listeners need you. News (done right) on all four stations has overperformed month by month – and is still heading upwards.

Graph-explanation: Delta Scores – a change in Tune-In and Tune-out behavior by listeners – from January to March. The higher the number, the more listeners stay tuned longer than usual. Every Station has improved listening retention during the news breaks, some stations by an extreme amount.

The data shows us, that in the chaos that is the Corona crisis, radio stations with relevant and instant coverage have positive trends on their ratings, as long as they keep coverage concise and relevant. Other stations that overdo it with the misguided but well-meant intention of “doing it all” – with extremely long breaks of only partially-relevant information – have a downward trend.

This picture is not exactly counter-intuitive. There are hundreds of online news sources who post lists and numbers – so radio should stick to what they do best: being there for the listener, filtering the big mess and interpreting it into “what does this mean for me, right now?” with highly relevant and useful information.

Living up to the local advantage many radio stations have can be just as valuable. Knowing the local or regional situation in terms of risks, precautions and cancellations will always be top of mind for people – and who is better at relaying that information than local or regional radio?

The advantages of radio

There are very clear reasons why radio needs to focus right now. These are times of turmoil and worry – even fear – for listeners. With the Corona virus sweeping the Globe, whole countries are shutting down and any guess when life returns to “normal” is just that: a guess. In times of crisis, whether it is the temporary kind like extreme weather or more long lasting crisis like this one, radio can prevail as one of the most important, most credible, and most stable sources of information. Far more elegant and more useful than the bright yellow “breaking news” headlines dominating the internet news sources, radio can keep listeners informed and safe while also keeping spirits high and putting a smile on the face of listeners.

The position of radio is unique when it comes to situations like this. The emotional connection listeners have to their favorite station alone makes the job so much more efficient – and if you add the fact that the world is overflowing with both good and bad information at the moment, the connection between radio and listeners becomes even more important.

Further supporting the notion that the importance of radio will increase over the next period of time is the fact that radio is the only platform where you can stay informed while going about your daily duties. All other media platforms require total focus while seeking the information. A focus that will render itself almost impossible as time goes by. Nobody wants to spend half their day browsing for news for weeks on end.

Sales focus required

All this being said, radio is also vulnerable at a time like this. In particular the commercial side of the sector will be looking at their sales budgets with fear right now since advertisers have a tendency to lower their expenses on marketing in times of trouble.

To counter this, programming decisions need to be right in order to keep ratings high – and meanwhile sales organizations need to shift gears several times in the next few months. Right now, a direct effort to sell advertising minutes to authorities and businesses who want or need to be heard in this climate is the best decision. But once the fear shrinks and bans lift, whether it is on travelling, concerts or conferences, radio should have “comeback packages” ready for advertisers.

Many industries will be in the same situation as radio: struggling to make ends meet because of the disruptions. So most of them will attempt to make a fast turn-around with a high-powered effort on marketing when the timing is right.

And once that tide turns, it is important to not miss out in order to maximize sales. For both the advertiser and radio.

This is not the end of the world, but it is an extremely serious situation. Markets will suffer, our day to day schedules will be (or already are) affected. But it is also our time to shine. Our time to be the voice of reason and a friend in need. So don’t look at the sales budgets for too long – do what every radio station dreams of: make a difference. The market will repay you when all is said and done and RadioAnalyzer is ready to support your efforts non-stop over the next months.


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