Radio came to Philadelphia on February 8, 1922, when The Bureau of Navigation, Radio Services Division, of the United States Department of Commerce granted a license to station WGL. This station was the 42nd to be licensed in the county.
Little is known about WGL except it was owned by Thomas Howlett who broadcast from home at 2303 North Broad Street near Temple University.
From that day, many predicted radio's success would succumb to advances from new technologies. In 1927, the challenge came from talking movies. In the 1940s, the predators were 13-inch TV sets. In the 1970s, it was 8-track and cassette tapes. In the past 20 years, there was a multi-flank attack from iPods, Zunes, YouTube, Sirius, XM, Pandora, Spotify,
So far, all of these challengers have failed. Not even a pandemic has been able to remove radio as a vital force in the life of Delaware Valley consumers.
Every week, according to Nielsen, more adults tune-in to Philadelphia radio than watch TV or cable. Use social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Read newspapers. Or, stream music from Pandora or Spotify.
A significant contributor to radio's unyielding success is the medium's place on the dashboard of the Philadelphia area's 3,500,000 cars and trucks.
According to Edison Research, radio is, by far, the most used source of audio when Philadelphia consumers climb into the driver's seat.
In March 2020 a lockdown sequestered many cars and trucks in their owners' garages. By May, however, data from both the U.S. Department of Transportation and Apple Mobility indicate consumers were returning to the road. Since then, the number of trips taken by car has stayed near or at pre-pandemic indices.
During the early part of the pandemic, as consumers stayed off the road, radio listening shifted from in-car to at-home. The shift did reduce, slightly, both the number of people who tuned-in to radio each week. But as the street began to fill again, the listening pendulum is swinging back.
By the end of December 2020, according to Nielsen, radio has reclaimed the majority of listeners lost at the onset of the pandemic.
A study by USA Touchpoints, a cross-platform measurement company, studied the time-lapse between audio media use and time of purchase. Radio was, by far, used most often within one half-hour of a purchase.
According to an article published by WARC, a company that collaborates with more than 50 respected marketing organizations, including the Advertising Research Foundation and the Association of National Advertisers, reaching consumers in their cars has a powerful effect on buying behavior.
"Radio ads heard in the car on the way to the store have a significant effect on purchasing intentions according to new research on fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) advertising," says WARC.
The study conducted by Touchpoints indicates that these radio commercials heard in the car increased purchased intent among loyal customers by 38%.
Purchase intent among non-loyal brand-customers rose 39% among those exposed to in-car radio commercials.
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