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New Opportunities for Radio as Podcast Fans Shift Younger, More Female

New Opportunities for Radio as Podcast Fans Shift Younger, More Female

As radio stations expand their podcast lineups, it’s important to know how is listening and how they’re accessing content. As the audience for podcasts grows steadily, users are increasingly younger, more female and willing to engage with advertisers who sponsor podcasts.  

This is welcome news for local radio stations developing podcasts and courting advertisers to support the content. According to a new  report on podcast consumption by Westwood One and Maru, about half of all podcast “newcomers”, or consumers who have started listening in the last six months, are female and nearly two-thirds are Millennials ages 18 to 34 years old. These newbies are listening to an average of 3.6 podcasts per week and for an average of 5 hours a week.  

That’s a shift compared to early adopters of podcasts, which Westwood One defines as fans who have listened for more than four years. These “podcast pioneers” skew older and male. 

In the last two years, women have been flocking to podcasts, shifting the gender balance. Weekly listening time among women jumped 23% from July 2017 to July 2019 to an average 5.4 hours per week. 

Among all podcast newcomers, both male and female, entertainment/pop culture; comedy and music podcasts are the most popular genres. These preferences are quite different from long-time podcast users, who rank news/current events, crime/storytelling and comedy among their top genres. Women said they liked true crime/storytelling podcasts the most, followed by entertainment/pop culture and comedy, while men preferred news, tech and sports podcasts.

For radio stations adding more podcasts, these listening trends point to opportunities to grow listeners and carve out a niche in your market. FM stations can create podcasts that compliment their formats and play to demand for entertainment and music podcasts. News/talk and sports stations can explore local crime and news stories, while sports stations can create podcasts that capitalize on their expertise on hometown teams and access to players, coaches and fans.  

Radio sellers can take these original podcast ideas, as well as the favorable data around podcast listening, and work with clients on podcast sponsorships and even co-branded podcast concepts. By May 2019, three-quarters of advertisers said they’ve discussed using podcasts as part of their paid media, up from just 40% in 2015, the Westwood One study noted. The number of brands who are messaging in podcasts has more than doubled in the same four-year period, from just 15% to 39%. 

And both podcast pioneers and newcomers are willing to engage with ads and interact, with Westwood One reporting that 82% of longtime listeners and 77% of newer users saying they have taken an action after hearing an ad in a podcast.

Local podcasts are one of the fastest growing areas for AM/FM radio programming and sales -- and with good reason. Consumers are hungry for engaging audio content they can consume on their own schedules, to connect with their favorite hosts and explore topics they’re passionate about, and marketers want to reach these valuable audiences. With all the data pointing in a positive direction, podcasting is poised to continue its rapid ascent. 

Written by Paul Altman