Radio loves traffic: Where the jams are


Car RadioThere are few things that do a better job of fueling radio station listening than a good traffic jam, and it is especially valuable when they are a guaranteed event two times a day. Here are the ten best markets for bad traffic.

The study from finds that commuters in America’s largest media markets tend to face the longest commutes, but the worst market – or the best, if you operate a radio station – isn’t even on the continent.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking Honolulu, Hawaii. An average commuter spends 58 hours a year getting to and from work, two hours longer than a resident of Los Angeles ant a full 10 hours longer than commuters in #3 San Francisco.

Here is the Worst 10 list, working down to the bottom rung occupied by the Hawaiian entry:

10) Chicago – 32.8 hours
9) Boston – 35 hours
8) Austin – 30 hours
7) Seattle – 33 hours
6) Washington, D.C. – 45 hours
5) Bridgeport, CT – 42 hours
4) New York – 57 hours
3) San Francisco – 48 hours
2) Los Angeles – 56 hours
1) Honolulu – 58 hours

More information on the study is available here.

Drive time is of course money time for local radio – particularly in the morning. So we always figure that the worse the traffic is for commuters, the better it is for local radio stations.

RBR-TVBR observation: Radio has faced in-vehicle competition before and come out just fine, but it looks like the battle for the dashboard is going to be engaged for real this time. That means that radio must continue to compellingly engage listeners with its strongest weapon – a robust local presence.

And on a personal note, we spent many years commuting in the Washington DC market. Not only is it no surprise that the city remains on this list, and we have to say that sometimes it seemed like we spent 45 hours on just one commute. Yes, we know that is impossible, but that’s still what it seemed like – particularly if you were in the Blue Plains area on I-295 near the Beltway and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

And in case anybody is wondering, yes – if a radio station featured great traffic reporting, it definitely made it a much more attractive listening option during drive times.