June 02, 2012

A study conducted by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism that examines the unique relationship between broadcast radio listeners and on-air personalities is the first to confirm that listeners feel they have a genuine relationship with their favorite radio personalities.

Among the key findings of the study – which was underwritten by Katz Radio Group, the nation’s leading radio representation firm – are:

· 75 percent of study respondents reported that they turn on the radio because they know their favorite personality is on the air;
· 72 percent of respondents talk to their friends about their favorite personality or what they heard on the program;
· Notably, listener engagement extended into the online realm, with nearly 70 percent of study participants reporting that they follow their favorite radio personalities and/or radio stations via social media channels;
· Nearly half (47%) of all respondents considered or purchased products recommended by their favorite radio personalities;
· More than half (51%) considered or purchased a product advertised during their favorite personality’s show; and
· Fully 82 percent of study participants expressed feelings and exhibited behaviors consistent with the phenomenon known as “parasocial identification.”

“Our findings underscore the depth of the relationship, loyalty, and trust between listeners and radio personalities,” said USC-Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism professor Paula Patnoe Woodley. “This connection can be a significant benefit for radio station advertisers as demonstrated by the significant number of study respondents who have considered or purchased services or products advertised during radio shows or recommended by favorite on-air personalities.”

Said Lauren Movius, PhD, co-author of the study with Woodley, “With more than half of the respondents saying their favorite radio personality influences their opinion, it is clear that parasocial interaction, or listeners’ feelings that they have real relationships with radio on-air personalities, definitely exists.”

Parasocial identification (PSI) was first introduced in academic settings in 1956 to describe one-sided “para-social” interpersonal relationships in which one party feels as though they know a great deal about the other. (The phenomenon was originally used to describe the relationship television viewers developed with characters on soap operas.)

In 1987, Alan M. Rubin and Elizabeth M. Perse developed the now-standard 20-item “Parasocial Interaction Scale.” The USC study used a subset of this scale to look at parasocial identification between broadcast radio listeners and their favorite on-air radio personalities. Also included in the study were hundreds of individual comments volunteered by the respondents that pointed to the personal nature of the PSI relationship with their favorite personalities.

“The unique emotional connection that exists between radio personalities and listeners is real and should not be underestimated,” said Mary Beth Garber, Executive Vice President, Radio Analysis and Insights, Katz Radio Group. “Radio is the only media platform that allows people to have an intimate, ongoing and evolving personal relationship with on-air personalities. Advertisers that are able to appreciate the unique value of these powerful connections stand to benefit tremendously.”

For more information at http://www.katz-media.com

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