3 Radio Format Myths vs. Reality

myths about radio

We all make assumptions. Unfortunately, when it comes to marketing, assumptions can sometimes lead to poor decisions that undermine our results. More specifically, marketers may make assumptions about the target audiences they can reach with radio advertising, especially when it comes to certain formats.

Today we’re going to take a look at three misconceptions about radio listeners and popular formats, and then address them with evidence from our own radio stations and professional experience.

“Classic Rock is Just for Old Guys”

The Myth

With “classic” right in the name, this genre brings to mind bands from 40 or 50 years ago, if not longer. It’s dated and dominated by male artists like Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, The Doors, and others. Younger generations and women just aren’t listening.

The Truth

In reality, classic rock has staying power and multi-generational appeal. It’s the favorite genre among age groups ranging from 35 to 65+, and listener share continues to grow.

This data from The Drive (97.1 FM WDRV) will give you a real glimpse at the cross-section of classic rock listeners you can reach here in Chicago:


    • Male: 59%
    • Female: 41%


    • 25 – 34 years: 25%
    • 35 – 44 years: 18%
    • 45 – 54 years: 25%

Children in household:

    • Yes: 35%
    • No: 65%

College education: 64%

HHI $50,000 or more: 68%

B2B industries advertising on The Drive:

    • Retail Banking
    • Financial Services
    • Accounting
    • Attorneys
    • Health Care

Learn more about advertising on The Drive and grab the media kit.

“Women Just Want Music”

The Myth

Women turn on the radio to tune out and lift their mood. The talking in between song segments annoys them, and they’ll spin the dial just to get to more music. Targeting them with radio advertising is a waste of marketing resources, as there’s no reliable return.

The Truth

While we will never deny the role music can play in elevating moods, we can say that men and women alike stay tuned in for commercials. It’s an accepted part of the listener experience, and engaging on-air talent can build relationships and establish trust. What’s more, women play a big role in household spending — they’re responsible for making or influencing 85% of all purchase decisions. Well targeted advertising with the right radio station can mean solid ROI.

Here are some facts from WSHE (101.3 FM) to help gauge the opportunities Chicago marketers have to reach women with radio advertising:


    • Female: 55%
    • Male: 45%


    • 25 – 34 years: 26%
    • 35 – 44 years: 30%
    • 45 – 54 years: 22%
    • 55 – 64 years: 13%

Children in household:

    • Yes: 47%
    • No: 53%


    • Average: $96,500
    • Highest segment: $100,000

College education: 66%

Learn more about advertising on WSHE and grab the media kit.

“Radio Listeners Just Listen, and Don’t Act”

The Myth

No one wants to hear ads while they’re listening to radio. As soon as they’re interrupted by a commercial, listeners are just going to turn the channel until they find something else.

The Truth

Radio listeners are remarkably loyal, be it to their favorite genre of music, station, morning show, or on-air personality. The rise of mobile devices and social media means stations have the opportunity to reach audiences in multiple ways, and live events can keep the engagement going off-air. In fact, many listeners tune into their favorite radio stations so they can stay up-to-date on local news, recommended products, events, and more.

The following facts from The Mix (101.9 FM WTMX) will help illuminate the extent to which Chicago fans engage with their favorite station:

  • On-air weekly engaged fans: 2 million
  • Events attended annually: 450
  • Engaged text database: 22,600+
  • Engaged Email Insiders: 50,000+
  • Engaged social media followers (average): 250,000
  • Mobile app subscribers: 13,300+

Learn more about advertising on The Mix and grab the media kit.

As we’re uncovered, there’s more to radio formats than may immediately come to mind. It’s important to base marketing decisions based on data rather than assumptions. Chicago advertisers have plenty of powerful opportunities to use radio advertising to target and connect with customers and prospects.

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