PEW RESEARCH CENTERJUNE 29, 2021
Audio and Podcasting Fact Sheet
The audio news sector in the U.S. is split by modes of delivery: traditional terrestrial (AM/FM) radio and digital formats, such as online audio and podcasting. While terrestrial radio reaches a large portion of the U.S. population, online audio and podcasting audiences have grown over the last decade. And revenue for news radio stations dropped over the past year after years of relative stability. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about audio and podcasting below. (Data on public radio beyond podcasting is available in a separate fact sheet
Note: This and most data on the radio sector apply to all types of listening and do not break out news, except where noted. In 2019, Nielsen listed news/talk among the most-listened-to radio formats; in 2020, 50% of U.S. adults said they got news on the radio often or sometimes.
Weekly terrestrial radio listenership
% of Americans ages 12 and older wholisten to terrestrial (AM/FM) radio in agiven week
Source: Nielsen Audio RADAR 149, June 2021, publicly available via Radio Advertising Bureau.
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The share of Americans who listen to podcasts has also substantially increased over the last decade. As of 2021, 41% of Americans ages 12 or older have listened to a podcast in the past month, according to “The Infinite Dial” report by Edison Research and Triton Digital, up from 37% in 2020 and just 9% in 2008. Additionally, 28% of those 12 and older said they have listened to a podcast in the last week, up from 24% in 2020 and 7% when this was first measured in 2013. (The data in this chart, as well as in the subsequent chart about podcasts, is for all types of content and does not break out news programs.)
% of Americans ages 12 and older whohave listened to a podcast ...
In the past month
In the past week2010201520200255075100
Note: Edison Research and Triton Digital's survey is conducted in January/February of every year. Weekly podcast listening data was first reported in 2013.
Source: Edison Research and Triton Digital, “The Infinite Dial 2021.”
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The average weekly unique users who download NPR podcasts, which include some of the most popular podcasts in the Apple Podcasts charts, such as Up First and Fresh Air, rose from 11.3 million in 2019 to 14 million in 2020, according to data provided by NPR. Public Radio Exchange (PRX) reported nearly 8 million average weekly unique users in 2020. (More information about public media is available in the public broadcasting fact sheet.)
Public radio podcast users
According to survey data from Edison Research and Triton Digital, the share of the public listening to online audio has plateaued. As of early 2021, 68% of Americans ages 12 and older had listened to online audio in the past month, while 62% had listened in the past week. This has been about steady since 2019, revealing a plateau after steady year-over-year growth from 2007 to 2018.
Online audio listenership
% of Americans ages 12 and older whohave listened to online audio in the past...
Note: Edison Research and Triton Digital's survey is conducted in January/February of every year. Online audio includes listening to terrestrial (AM/FM) radio stations online and/or listening to streamed audio content available only on the internet.
Source: Edison Research and Triton Digital, "The Infinite Dial 2021."
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Average radio revenue dropped fairly sharply in 2020 – by 24% – for stations in the all-news format, according to Pew Research Center analysis of MEDIA Access Pro & BIA Advisory Services data. Average station revenue for stations in the all-news format dropped from $18.1 million in 2019 to $13.9 million in 2020. (The BIA Advisory Services database contains revenue data during these years for only 16 of the 25 all-news stations, therefore, only those stations are included in the averages.)
Average revenue for a combination of stations in the all-news, news/talk, and news/talk/info formats is substantially lower than when looking at all-news stations alone – in 2021, $2.1 million per station. This likely stems from the fact that this category contains a sizeable number of stations with low total revenue. (The BIA Advisory Services database contains revenue data during all of these years for 361 stations in this category.)
Average station revenue by programming category
There were 3,360 news employees in the radio broadcasting industry in 2020, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. (To learn more about how we track the number of news employees, see the methodology
.) This is about 1,000 fewer than in 2004, when there were 4,290 news employees.
The median wage in 2020 for news analysts, reporters and journalists in the radio broadcasting industry was about $49,000. Editors in the radio broadcasting industry had a median annual wage of about $79,000.
Employment in radio newsrooms
As of 2020, there were 25 AM or FM stations listed as “all-news” in the BIA Advisory Services database of radio stations. Entercom (which changed its name to Audacy in 2021) is currently the parent company of 10 of these 25 stations.
Ownership of all-news radio stations
Number of all-news stations, by parentcompany
Hubbard Radio LLC
Sinclair BroadcastGroup Inc.
Cumulus MediaHoldings Inc.
Jet Broadcasting Inc.
MultiCultural RadioBroadcasting Inc.
Storm FrontCommunications LLC
Kensington DigitalMedia LLC
Brian R. Walsh
Davis Media LLC
TL Broadcasting LLC
Note: Data includes full-power AM and FM radio stations in the BIA Advisory Services database in 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. Entercom changed its name to Audacy in 2021. Before 2019, the stations listed under Hubbard Radio LLC were listed under Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., the stations under Cumulus Media Holdings Inc. were previously listed as Cumulus Media Inc., and the stations under iHeartMedia Inc. were previously listed as CC Media Holdings Inc.
Source: Pew Research Center analysis of MEDIA Access Pro & BIA Advisory Services data.
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Find out more
Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. This is the latest report in Pew Research Center’s ongoing investigation of the state of news, information and journalism in the digital age, a research program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Find more in-depth explorations of audio and podcasting by following the links below:
ABOUT PEW RESEARCH CENTER
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts