When the lights go off, radio stays on: Radio listening increased dramatically in the New York radio market as Superstorm Sandy made landfall during the evening of Monday, 10/29. In fact, according to Arbitron, compared to the week prior, the average number of people using radio in any quarter hour from 7PM to Midnight on the storm night increased 70%.
When the lights went out, when TV and desktop PCs were no longer available, many New York area residents turned on their battery-powered radios. Many stations along the path of the storm, regardless of their regular format, revamped their programming to provide their listeners with weather updates, news and emergency info.
In the wake of the storm, radio remained an information lifeline to the residents of New York, particularly in the coastal areas of the market. Average radio listening on Tuesday, 10/30 in New York was 1,525,500 persons in any given quarter hour between 6am and Midnight, up 8% from 1,406,700 persons 6+ the week before.
The average audience in the NY coastal communities (Monmouth, Fairfield SN, Nassau-Suffolk, Staten Island and Middlesex) totaled 670,200 on the Tuesday (6a-Mid) following landfall (10/30) which is 38% higher than the average of all Tuesdays year to date.
The Average in the NY coastal communities (Monmouth, Fairfield SN, Nassau-Suffolk, Staten Island and Middlesex) totaled 651,200 on the Wednesday (6a-Mid) following landfall (10/31) which is 35% higher than the average of all Wednesdays year to date.
The Arbitron New York Radio Metro consists of the following counties:
Connecticut: Fairfield (Stamford-Norwalk Split) New Jersey: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union New York: Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester.
RBR-TVBR observation: These numbers are likely still elevated, due to the number of people still without power. While all media have lost ad dollars from Sandy coverage and subsequent emergency info, you can bet that a lot of folks in the NYC metro area are rediscovering radio—and local businesses as well—so radio there could well be a listening and revenue boost in the weeks and months to come. Storms like this are a wake-up call to the importance and power of the radio medium and the folks that work in it.