If an advertiser wants to target a college-educated 18-34-year-old consumer, a blockbuster new study confirms there’s no better place to look than radio. Yes, radio. Younger people remain committed to their radios, according to the recently released Nielsen white paper, How U.S. Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio. By realigning the data socio-economically instead of by medium or audio platform, the study offers an unprecedented glimpse into the media habits of various population segments.

Almost 80 percent of 18-34-year-olds listen to radio every day for an average of 104 minutes. Contrary to conventional wisdom, only 20 percent of the younger demographic sought by advertisers listen to MP3’s daily; and among those who did, 82 percent also listen to broadcast radio for close to 100 minutes a day! It turns out this coveted demographic tends to be lighter viewers of television, while paying little attention to print, spending close to 40 percent less time with newspapers than the average adult.

Education and income levels also play critical roles in determining people’s media habits. Individuals with a high school education or less spend significantly more time with TV than any other medium. TV dominates their media day with viewing clocking in at 7.4 hours, almost two full hours more per day than the average and accounting for an amazing 80 percent of their daily media consumption.

Because of this huge dose of television, those with a high school education or less tend to be lighter than average consumers of both audio and radio. The college-educated, however, are much more audio-centric, tuning into broadcast radio for close to two hours a day while viewing almost three hours a day less television than less-educated people. Those with advanced degrees are also fans of radio, with 84 percent tuning in daily while viewing nearly three and half hours less of television per day than those with a high school education or less.

The media habits of various income levels also vary dramatically. Households with annual income below $30,000 consume less audio and are lighter than average broadcast radio consumers with only 62 percent tuning to broadcast radio daily. Their use of satellite radio, other digital audio options and the Internet is also far below average.

But their devotion to television is extraordinary at 478 minutes, or 8 hours, a day.  Meanwhile, households with annual incomes above $100,000 are heavy consumers of audio, listening about 30 minutes more per day with fully 84 percent tuning to broadcast radio daily. Listening to satellite, streaming and MP3’s, as well as other digital audio options, are all above average. Households with incomes above $100,000 spend about the same amount of time with audio as with television—210 minutes with audio compared to 224 minutes with television.

What’s more, while the upscale individuals increased their use of other digital forms of audio, it’s not at the expense of radio. As with the higher educated, the affluent continue to embrace radio—viewing other audio options as a supplement, not a substitute. It’s a completely different story for television, with high-income households viewing close to 2 hours less television per day than the average household; and 4 1/4 hours less than households with annual income of $30,000 or less. This upscale segment also shuns newspapers, spending 25 percent less time with the paper on a typical day.

Employment also plays a key role in media consumption. The employed tend to consume more audio and radio than the norm, are more likely to be online and less likely to read a newspaper. Those who are unemployed, retired or students are extremely television-centric and lighter than average consumers of radio and audio. Similar to low- income households, they spend 90 minutes more per day with television (7 hrs) than the average individual, and are one-third less likely to use the Internet. This segment is also 29% more likely to read a daily newspaper.

Viewed socio-economically, the Nielsen audio study confirms that radio remains a vital cog in today’s media landscape, especially among the more affluent and higher-educated. Radio has made great strides in transforming the medium, incorporating a multi-channel mix of terrestrial radio, digital audio, mobile applications and audio streams, and we expect these efforts will serve to maintain radio’s continued relevance for many years to come.

-Bob McCurdy, President