The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group® Releases Brand New Nielsen Analysis of AM/FM Radio Streaming

AM/FM Radio Streaming Now Represents 12% Of Total AM/FM Radio Listening Among Persons 25-54

Spoken Word Represents One-Third Of AM/FM Radio Streaming

The Vast Majority of the AM/FM Radio Streaming Audience Resides in the DMA Market Where They Listen

AM/FM Radio Streaming Audiences Are Upscale and Employed

NEW YORK, NY – April 25, 2022 – The Cumulus Media (NASDAQ: CMLS) | Westwood One Audio Active Group® (AAG) today released a comprehensive analysis of AM/FM radio streaming. The report includes the latest Q4 2021 data from Edison Research’s quarterly “Share of Ear” study, a first-ever view of all U.S. AM/FM radio streaming as well as purchase intention data from MRI-Simmons. 

The analysis revealed key insights around the state of AM/FM radio streaming including who AM/FM radio streamers are, how their profile differs from over-the-air AM/FM radio listeners, how and where AM/FM radio streaming is consumed, and a format and market analysis of AM/FM radio streaming patterns. 

“While it is well acknowledged that podcasts are a fast-growing audio platform, it would surprise many to learn that AM/FM radio streaming audiences have also experienced significant growth over the last several years,” said Suzanne Grimes, EVP, Marketing for Cumulus Media and President, Westwood One. “AM/FM radio streaming now has the scale and quality marketers require. With audiences larger than Pandora and Spotify, AM/FM radio streaming listeners are upscale, employed, and in-market for major purchases.”   

The state of AM/FM radio streaming analysis reveals valuable insights for marketers, agency media planners, and buyers. Some highlights include: 

  • With Nielsen’s introduction of the headphone enhancement to their Portable People Meter service in October 2020, streaming now represents 12% of total AM/FM radio listening persons 25-54.  
  • Since 2017, the ad-supported share of AM/FM radio streaming has increased 6% to 11% according to Edison’s “Share of Ear” study. Pandora’s ad-supported share has dropped from 10% in 2017 to 8% in 2022. Over the last five years, Spotify’s ad-supported share has remained at a 3% share.  
  • The streaming shares of spoken word AM/FM radio stations are nearly double their over-the-air shares. Spoken word AM/FM radio stations streams (News/Talk, Sports, Talk/Personality, Spanish News/Talk) represent 36% of all American streaming listening, +89% greater than the over-the-air share (19%) of spoken word stations. 
  • 89% of the AM/FM radio streaming audience resides in the DMA market where they stream. Marketers can purchase time on AM/FM radio station streams with the confidence that their ads will reach consumers in that local market.  
  • There is wide variation in the amount of AM/FM radio stream listening that occurs in local markets. According to Nielsen’s analysis of the February 2022 Portable People Meter data, 18.4% of all AM/FM radio listening in Philadelphia occurs via the stream compared to only 3.9% of listening in Las Vegas. 
  • AM/FM radio streaming audiences are employed, upscale, and most are 35-64. The streams of AM/FM radio stations are highly desirable to advertisers. Compared to the over-the-air AM/FM radio audience in Nielsen’s 48 Portable Meter Markets, streaming audiences are +14% more likely to be employed full time, +30% more likely to have a $75K+ household income, and +11% more likely to be aged 35-64. 
  • According to MRI-Simmons, the AM/FM radio streaming audience is far more likely to start a new business, make major purchases (new vehicle, new house, major appliance), make financial investments, or be in the market for insurance. 
  • Due to the strong levels of time listeners spend streaming, advertising accumulates reach and frequency faster in AM/FM radio streaming campaigns than in over-the-air schedules. As a result, about half the ads are required in the AM/FM radio stream to accomplish the same advertising frequency as over-the-air campaigns. As an example, 30 ads running weekly in an AM/FM radio streaming buy will generate a two frequency. Fifty ads would be required to run over-the-air in a week to accomplish the same two frequency. 

The complete analysis of streaming data is available at This information is available on the blog as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the marketing community. 

About Cumulus Media 

Cumulus Media (NASDAQ: CMLS) is an audio-first media company delivering premium content to over a quarter billion people every month — wherever and whenever they want it. Cumulus Media engages listeners with high-quality local programming through 406 owned-and-operated radio stations across 86 markets; delivers nationally-syndicated sports, news, talk, and entertainment programming from iconic brands including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, CNN, the AP, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and many other world-class partners across more than 9,500 affiliated stations through Westwood One, the largest audio network in America; and inspires listeners through the Cumulus Podcast Network, its rapidly growing network of original podcasts that are smart, entertaining and thought-provoking. Cumulus Media provides advertisers with personal connections, local impact and national reach through broadcast and on-demand digital, mobile, social, and voice-activated platforms, as well as integrated digital marketing services, powerful influencers, full-service audio solutions, industry-leading research and insights, and live event experiences. Cumulus Media is the only audio media company to provide marketers with local and national advertising performance guarantees. For more information visit 


Karen Glover | Cumulus Media |