Surrogate friend: Why radio still has vast reach in Australia


It may be a technology developed in the 19th century, but Australian researchers have found radio still offers a surprising range and depth of experience to listeners today.

James Cook University psychology lecturer Dr Amanda Krause led a study investigating the purpose of radio.

She says the medium still has a vast reach in Australia – especially among older people.

“Figures from 2022 indicate community radio reaches over 5.1 million Australians weekly and commercial radio reaches 68% of Australians 65 years of age and older.”

“Average weekly listening hours are 15 hours and nearly 13 hours for community and commercial radio respectively,” says Dr Krause.

Participants indicated that radio acts as a surrogate friend in their home – someone to keep them company and encourage connection to their greater community.

“Relationships with radio programs and individual presenters, built and sustained over time through repeated listening, underpin radio’s ability to support listener wellbeing.”

Dr Krause says researchers know that audience participation is key to radio engagement, but it seems radio’s ability to create community has benefits beyond that.

“Researchers understand the media landscape has become increasingly individualised – with digital music tailored exactly to an individual’s taste, for instance.”

“However, radio’s perceived social purpose— its ability to draw people together—underpins its continued relevance as a media technology.”

Link to study here.

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