Radio lags behind TV, Internet in emergencies

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tornadoNew research from Mark Kassof & Co. says that  radio ranks third as the source of information 18-64 consumers would turn to first in the event of a local emergency.


Only 17% percent select “AM or FM radio” as the place where they would go first for information about “emergencies that could affect a local community – like severe weather, flooding, power outages, gas leaks, chemical spills, fires, tainted water supplies and major accidents.” Television ranks first at 37%, the internet next at 25%.

The survey found little variation among age groups in their choice of radio as the “go to” for emergency information. However, men are more likely to turn to radio than women, with 45-64 men most likely.

 .
TV 37%
Internet 25%
AM or FM Radio  17%
Smartphone Apps          . 13%     .
Police/Fire/911    2%
Other   4%
Don’t know/Refused      .   1%

Demographically, Kassof found a huge divide between 18-44′s and 45-64′s, but relative to TV and new tech, not radio. Half of 45-64′s would turn first to TV, while only 28% of 18-44′s would. A third of 18-44′s would go to the internet, while only 14% of 45-64′s would. And use of smartphone apps among the younger group is almost double that of the older group:

18-44 45-64
TV 28%      . 51%      .
Internet 34% 14%
AM or FM Radio 15% 18%
Smartphone Apps         . 17%   9%
Police/Fire/911   3%   2%
Other   3%   5%
Don’t know/Refused   1%   2%

Radio’s demo divide is based on gender, not age.  Men are more likely to turn to radio during emergencies than women are:

MEN    . WOMEN
TV 35% 41%
Internet 24% 26%
AM or FM Radio 20% 12%
Smartphone Apps        . 13% 14%
Police/Fire/911   2%   2%
Other   3%   4%
Don’t know/Refused   1%   1%

Most likely to turn to radio are 45-64 men…24% say they would go to radio.  But, that’s still half of the 45-54 men that would turn to TV.

These research findings are based on 707 telephone interviews conducted from 2/26 through 3/1. The maximum total sample margin of error is +/-4%.

This research is the latest in a series of ListenerThink surveys conducted by Mark Kassof & Co., a research and strategy firm specializing in radio.

RBR-TVBR observation: It would be an entirely different set of responses if you had asked folks that had BEEN in an actual emergency, where the power was out, the cell networks overloaded and they had tried to find a battery-powered digital TV receiver that would a) receive a station well and b) stay on for more than 45 minutes. When the chips are really down, let’s face it–radio is the only thing that works in providing emergency information. That’s why it’s imperative that all smartphones get an FM chip inside–and have them activated.


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The observation to this article is correct, and this survey is just a nice peek into “what if”. Unfortunately, when there is a REAL disaster (like here in Houston during and after Hurricane Ike) what we see in the survey is pretty much dismissable. We had no power for days so no TV. And no cell/smart phone, since there was no power to their cell towers.

    All we had was the radio until the power came back on. It was a lifeline.

  2. but in case of a catistrophic failure,, ie; no electric power,, EVERYONE has a working radio,, so the facebook (which is scary with rumors etc) and smart phones and all others are non working,, radio with back-up power is the key,, so many emergency managers dont realize this,, but the radio is the emergency key

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