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Radio Days, Continued

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Radio hasn't escaped the flux brought on by newer technologies. But polling by Arbitron and Edison Research finds consumers still regard broadcast radio as one of their media standbys.

Released this month, based on polling fielded in February among people age 12 and up, the data do show broadcast radio losing its once-dominant role in introducing music to consumers. When asked to identify the medium "you turn to first to learn about new music," 39 percent chose radio, down from 63 percent in 2002. The Internet took up the slack, with 31 percent in the new poll (vs. 9 percent in 2002) saying it is their go-to place for finding new music. Among 12-34-year-olds, the Internet has a big lead over radio, 52 percent vs. 32 percent.

The polling also finds listenership for online radio (vs. the over-the-air AM/FM kind) having grown far beyond a mere niche: 27 percent of respondents said they listened to online radio in the past month, and 17 percent in the past week. What's the lure for these listeners? Asked to pick "the one main reason you listen" to online radio, those who do so at least monthly put "to control or choose the music being played" atop the list (cited by 20 percent), followed by "more music variety" (17 percent).

As with media usage more broadly, the rise of new technologies for radio has tended to boost the total time consumers spend with the medium, rather than yielding a zero-sum game in which one form grows at the expense of another. People who listen weekly to online radio devote 20 percent more total time to radio than respondents in general. Likewise, just 13 percent of all respondents said owning an iPod/MP3 player has meant they spend less time with over-the-air radio (and 5 percent said it has meant they spend more time with it).

Looking ahead, 78 percent agreed that "In the future, you will continue to listen to AM/FM radio as much as you do now, despite increasing advancements in technology." And 51 percent would be "very disappointed" (with another 28 percent "somewhat disappointed") if their favorite broadcast station went off the air.