Return to radio

With a quarter of the world’s population on lockdown, people are falling back on old habits.

Radio listenership on some UK stations is up by almost a fifth, and that’s just online, while US reports suggest that music streaming is down by 8%. The BBC’s local radio division has promised to donate thousands of free DAB units to vulnerable people over 70. Even without this, an increase across DAB and analogue listeners is almost guaranteed from the next Rajar figures. 

It’s no surprise. For those finding the constant barrage of news and analysis on the pandemic too much on top of a complete lifestyle change and a new living situation, radio acts as a calming medium that takes one more decision off their plate – simply put it on and let it choose what music you listen to or what programmes you hear. For those seeking comfort in regular news updates and analysis, that choice is there too. Presenters on the other end of the line (which is now often in their own home) are bringing companionship and creating conversations with their listeners – something many people find themselves lacking in their new working and home lives.

There’s no way of knowing what consumers will do when the pandemic is over. If home-working becomes the new normal then for many, these habits might stick – a just reward for a medium that’s providing an essential communications service in this difficult time. For now, we’re working hard to make sure that people up and down the UK can continue to connect to each other in this way – however long that may be.