More and more GOP candidates are moving away from the romanticized bantar that consumes prime time television. In a recent article published in the New York Times, author Nick Corasanti quotes Doug Watts, a spokesman for Ben Carson’s campaign, which has been advertising on radio since the summer, as saying “From Dec. 15 through January, if you want to find a basket full of white noise, go to your Iowa TV set,” said Doug Watts, a spokesman for Ben Carson’s campaign, which has been advertising on radio since the summer. “People are spending millions of dollars, and every other spot is going to be a political spot.” “You’ve got to find a way around that,” Mr. Watts said, adding: “Radio works.”
Carson’s campaign isn’t the only one taking advantage of this medium. Donald Trump, whose campaign has dominated television news coverage of the Republican primary, has bought ads only on radio, with six different commercials playing across the country. And whether you agree with Trump’s methods or not, this one comes with good reason. The explosive frequency of political ads tends to cause television audiences to tune out, and online audiences can choose to skip or scroll by an ad. But radio listeners have long felt a more personal connection to the station’s they choose to listen to, and not only are they listening, they’re tuning in for long periods of time. 85 percent of the United States population listens to the radio every week, and those who listen daily will do so for 2 hours on average. That may be the closest thing to a captive audience for political commercials.
Much of it comes down to the fact that we like the company of our local DJs. We enjoy catching up on the latest sports scores and news stories. We like it so much that we’re doing even more of it than in the past. The total listenership for terrestrial radio was 244 million in 2014 – this, according to Nielsen Audio’s The State of Radio Today report, up from 230 million in 2005. In a world filled with audio technologies and options, people like the feeling of familiarity they get by listening to local radio.
While buying News/Talk radio is a no-brainer for reaching active and involved voters during election seasons, a new study from Nielsen shows that radio overall delivers “more than just chatter about the candidates: it can deliver voters to the polls.” Nielsen used its voter segmentation data to look at how radio reaches voters with specific political views. The study revealed that local radio different voter types in each market, and that these voters migrate to different stations depending on the time of day. For example, in Los Angeles morning commuters who identified in the study as ‘Mild Republicans’ listen primarily to News/Talk/Information stations on the way to work, while during their ride home, they tune to News/Talk/Information, Adult Contemporary and Adult Hits stations about equally. Nielsen used its voter segmentation data to look at how radio reaches voters with specific political views, and all the various formats that they listen to in the study. Summing up the important take-away for radio and political campaigns, Nielsen notes: “Combining voter data with listening habits can be a key way for candidates to connect with specific voting segments.”