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Radio: Uses and Gratifications

Running Head: RADIO: USES AND GRATIFICATIONS

The Solid State of Radio Listener Uses and Gratifications in the Era of Converging Media Jan R. Whitehouse University of Central Florida

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Abstract Changes in how people have enjoyed music have come and gone. Products found enduring popularity by being able to provide music people could have with them anywhere. The pocket transistor radio enjoyed a long run of not having to compete with other compact music players until the Walkman cassette players were introduced. Next came portable CD players, mp3 players, and the multi-platform versatility of smartphones, which, thanks to dedicated apps, are able to play any streaming radio station. Is radios obsolescence a foregone conclusion or has radio branched out to

become part of the emerging convergence infrastructure? How much interest in music do people have these days? Interest in music, what avenues people use to explore new music and where they turn for consistently good music is the subject for this study. Introduction Ease of use and familiarity with different technologies is in a state of a rush of adaptation and convergence. Some technologies seem to be waning, others are still strong, and others are reborn by having been absorbed by or grafted onto newer technologies. In the 1970s, 8-Tracks and LPs dominated the music scene (Burke, 2007). In 1979 Walkmans made cassettes easier to carry and demonstrated superior sound. Compact discs entered the picture in the early 80s, providing a medium that was less subject to deterioration. Initially they were sold in tandem with cassettes. In the era of Thriller, music sales grew even as LP sales declined. Iin the early 90s sales of CDs overtook cassettes as CD players became standard in automobiles. Compact disc sales grew and cassettes were retired.

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Total music sales peaked in 2000 at $13 billion (2007), then showed decline as CD sales took a dip with the advent of file-sharing services, the most popular being Napster. Today, CD sales continue to be outsold by downloads, and it is predicted that mp3s will too fade in popularity as more people store music and other content in the cloud. Smith (2010) found that 47% of American adults own an MP3 player, up from just 11% in 2005Properly purchased downloads have been increasing since 2004 due in very large part to the launch of the iTunes Store (Nash, 2011). In October 2011, the media was filled with responses to the passing of Steve Jobs. To Ed Nash, a long time music industry insider and president of Altius Management, Nash maintains that in addition to Jobs computer and digital animation innovations, he should also be recognized for his role in saving the music industry. His October 12th blog post (2011), reprinted in The Wall Street Journal 9 days later, pointed

out that Jobs singles-based purchasing model and 2003 launch of the iTunes Store made downloading easy and attractive to people. iTunes, he argues, was able to convert people used to picking up music for free using the clumsier Limewire or Napster file sharing interfaces into paying customers. Despite what means may flourish or fade, the music lover is still driven to discover new music. Radio assumed that role early on. Now it is part of a matrix of ways people explore new music. There are more options and ways to learn about new artists and releases. Pioneered in 1970 by Nicholas Negroponte, recommendation algorithms first showed up in (short-lived) Blockbuster video mall kiosks that recommended videos based on the customers previous rentals. Amazon is an example of a service that has achieved great success by utilizing highly sophisticated recommendation algorithms. If

Radio: Uses and Gratifications radio has difficulty competing with such a formidable sales tool, what can be said to immediately recommend radio? The Pew Research Center released a study in September 2011 that sought to discover by which means people get news of their communities. Over 2,200 adults over 18 responded to the survey. For local news, the top source remains local TV. Radio ties

with television for a source of traffic news (2011). It seems self-evident that radio would still be popular for utilitarian purposes like immediately relevant traffic reports. In March 2011, USA Today reported Arbitrons findings for radio listenership for all formats. An average of 241.6 million people 12 and older [still] were listening to terrestrial radio every week in 2010. That figure was an increase of 2.1 million over 2009s totals and up 4.9% vs. 2005 (Lieberman, 2011). With the use of radio still so robust, why does the medium continue to be eulogized? Radio persists. This study seems to, at least in certain circumstances, support the larger Pew and Arbitron studies.

Uses and Gratifications Theory Uses and Gratifications theory is a tool to study not only understand how people use various communications, but to also understand why they use them. It is a theory that has been widely studied and used in practice since the 1970s, when researchers Jay Blumler and Elihu Katz decided that it was expeditious to account for how and why audiences interact with the media the ways they do. The theory has five theoretical assumptions that help to build the concept of Uses and Gratifications (Westerik, et al., 2006). The first assumption is that the audience must

Radio: Uses and Gratifications be considered to be active participants in communications and the use of media is goaldirected. The second is that there is a link between need gratification and media choice for the audience. The third assumption is that the medias multiple manifestations

compete for needs satisfaction with audiences. The fourth assumption is that many of the goals of media consumption can be seen through data accumulated by audience members. The last assumption states that the cultural significance of mass communications should be explored on the terms of the audience members themselves. The audience is said to be active in their selection of media, which fills certain needs (Ferguson, et al., 2007). Uses and Gratifications theory supplies researchers with an important theoretical vehicle that can keep pace as various new media technology emerges, providing understanding as to why some products and technologies are embraced while others are virtually dead on arrival. It can be of great assistance in assessing and predicting consumer needs. An immediate example that springs to mind is the intuitive understanding of uses and gratifications that the aforementioned Jobs possessed. He had a knack for predicting consumer desires that had not yet surfaced. Motivation A number of motivations for radio listening have been identified: companionship, filling a void created by daily routine, altering mood, relieving boredom, providing news and information, allowing active participation in events, and overcoming social isolation (Albarran, et al., 2007). As radio use has changed throughout the past several decades, and focus shifts to new media, the Uses and Gratifications Theory can be used in order to understand the audience use of various ways to receive news and music through radio services (Ferguson, et al. 2007).

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Consumers are selective in their choices of media, which suggests that there may be many factors that take part in the choice of a particular medium. Ferguson, et al.

(2007) found that younger users of radio are more likely to find more gratification in new media than older radio consumers. This shows that the Uses and Gratifications Theory will continue to show different things about the audience of radio as the face of radio continues to change. Industry insider Andrew Phillips counters the assumptions about generational divides and certain obsolescence for the medium. Radiocannot be buried or ignored; it continues to influence all other mediums and reflect societies' cultural state. Video did not kill the radio star; neither did podcasts or mp3s, not even streaming or 'listen again' options have destroyed the 'LIVE' power of radio. Presenters, programmers and producers in radiomust be in touch with the heartbeat of society, find the language and the songs that touch and connect with everyday people (Phillips, 2011. p. 7).

Research Questions RQ1: How often are people listening to music and what are their preferred means for listening to music? RQ2: What are the differences in perceived ease of use of different technologies between younger and older populations in discovering new music? RQ3: What are the differences in perceived reliability of different technologies and

Radio: Uses and Gratifications resources as providers of consistently good music between younger and older populations?

Method Participants Participants (N=53) were individuals ranging from 18-75 years old. 20% were 18-24 years old, 21% were 25-34, 36% were 35-54, 21% were 55-64 and 2% (one person) reported their age as being 75 or older. Participants also answered questions about gender, income and ethnic heritage, but out of consideration for time, those categories were not used. Eliminating gender, income and ethnic heritage categories also permitted the study to more tightly focus on comparing and contrasting generational behaviors. The age groups were consolidated into dichotomized young and old groups, with 1834 year-olds (N=22) representing young and 3575 (N=31) representing old.

Procedure Respondents for this study were recruited to take an online survey by means of a snowball sampling method, utilizing e-mail and social media networks. The survey tool itself was created using the Qualtrics software package. The survey measures are described below.

Measures

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Frequency of music listening. A 7-point Likert type scale was used to measure how often people reported listening to music, with 1 = rarely and 7 = pretty much all the

time. The frequency of listening was established to determine how much presence music had in the lives of the respondents. The items were averaged and demonstrated adequate reliability (=.81). Home listening preferences. Participants were asked to select the one most used means of listening to music from among the following: smartphone/tablet, computer, AM/FM radio, iPod/mp3 or home stereo. Participants also had the option of reporting that they typically did not listen to music at home; they also could write in other means of listening to music. Vehicle listening preferences. Participants were asked to select the one most used means of listening to music while driving from among the following: smartphone/tablet, AM/FM radio, satellite (subscription) radio, iPod/mp3, or CD player. Again participants also had the option of reporting that they typically did not listen to music in the car; they also could write in an alternate preferred means of listening to music. Importance of discovering new music. A 7-point Likert type scale was used to measure how important people felt a need to discover new music, with 1 = not at all important and 7 = extremely important. Learning about new music. The following options were given and the participant was asked to select the one most used: non-commercial radio, commercial radio, recommendations from friends (but not via social media), Pandora, iHeart radio or similar apps, recommendations based on past purchases (iTunes, Amazon), digital versions of

Radio: Uses and Gratifications music magazines, live performances, social media (including friends posts), free samples, or satellite radio. Ease of exploring new music. 7-point Likert scales for the previous asked about each being easy ways to explore new music, e.g., Pandora (and similar) is an easy way to explore new music: 1 = strongly agree7 = strongly disagree.

Importance of consistently good music. As with discovering new music, the same 7-point Likert type scale was used to measure the perceived importance of having access to consistently good music, with 1 = not at all important and 7 = extremely important. Reliable sources for consistently good music. Options were given as they were with exploring new music; the participant was again asked to select one from among the following as being used most often: Pandora or similar apps satellite radio commercial radio non-commercial radio attending live performances digital versions of music magazines recommendations from friends (not including social media) social media (including friends posts) recommendations based on past purchases (iTunes, Amazon) free samples of music from iTunes, Amazon or similar

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Separate questions used 7-point Likert scales for each of the above, in two sections. First participants were asked their perceptions of whether each was an easy

means of exploring new music. In the next section they were to asked whether each item was a reliable source for consistently good music, with 1 = strongly agree and 7 = strongly disagree.

Results

Frequency of music listening. A one-sample t-test against the scale midpoint (4) showed that a clear majority of the individuals responding enjoyed listening to music frequently. The results from the 7-point Likert type scale showed (M = 5.47, SD = .882) revealing that the majority of survey respondents, regardless of age, enjoyed listening to music as often as 2 - 3 times daily or even more frequently, t(53) = 13.12. The results are statistically significant (p < .05). When broken out by age groups, 1834 year-olds (M = 5.95, SD = .78) reported listening to music slightly more than their 35-75 year-old counterparts (M = 5.26, SD = .81), t(59) = 3.11. The difference between the two groups is considered to be statistically significant (p < .05). Having access to consistently good music was important for everyone. The young group (M=5.77, SD =.973), the old group (M=5.59, SD=1.09) t(51) =.66, p >.05. There was no statistical difference between the two groups.

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Preferences and environment

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When listening to music at home, 39% reported a preference to listen through the computer; iPod/mp3 player was the next highest with 27%. Home stereos and traditional radio were preferred by a smaller margin of only 10% each. It should be noted that as a result of technological convergence, the responses could be misleading; e.g., a home stereo could have a dock for an iPod, and one can listen to a traditional radio stations online stream via their computer or mobile device. In a car environment, a clear majority of participants chose radio (51%) over iPod/mp3 (19%), CDs (12%) or mobile devices.

Preferences for exploring new music and resources for good music

Independent samples t-tests were performed to ascertain if there were significant differences between the younger and older age groups, first in how they regarded various ways of exploring new music as being easy to use, and second, measuring how they perceived the various means as being reliable sources for consistently good music.

Pandora An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.86, SD = 1.13) differed from older participants (M = 4.90, SD = 1.37) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using Pandora to explore new music, t(49) = 2.68. This finding was statistically significant, p = .01 (p < .05).

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Another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.43, SD = 1.08) did not differ from older participants (M = 4.97, SD = 1.17) regarding their perceptions of Pandora as being a reliable source of good music, t(50) = 1.44, p = .15. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05).

Satellite Radio An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.73, SD = 1.24) were similar to older participants (M = 4.79, SD = 1.47) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using satellite radio to explore new music, t(48) = -.15, p = .88. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05). Another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.71, SD = 1.06) did not differ significantly from older participants (M =4.83, SD = 1.37) regarding their perceptions of satellite radio being a reliable source of good music, t(49) = -.33, p = .74. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05).

Commercial Radio An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.50, SD = 1.87) did not differ significantly from older participants (M = 4.53, SD = 1.61) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using commercial radio to explore new music, t(50) = .07, p = .94. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05).

Another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.00, SD = 1.67) did not differ significantly from older participants (M = 3.87, SD = 1.58)

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regarding their perceptions of commercial radio as being a reliable source of good music, t(50) = .28, p = .78. This finding was not statistically significant (p >.05).

Non-Commercial Radio An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.68, SD = 1.29) did not differ from older participants (M = 4.90, SD = 1.37) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using non-commercial radio to explore new music, t(50) = -1.28, p = .21. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05). Another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.43, SD = 1.08) differed from older participants (M = 4.97, SD = 1.17) regarding their perceptions of non-commercial radio being a reliable source of good music, t(50) = 1.44, p = .03. This finding was statistically significant (p < .05).

Digital Versions of Music Magazines An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.05, SD = .95) did not differ from older participants (M = 3.80, SD = 1.21) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using digital versions of music magazines to explore new music, t(50) = .79, p = .43. This finding is not statistically significant (p > .05). Additionally, another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.05, SD = .74) did not differ from older participants (M = 4.13, SD = 1.17) regarding their perceptions of digital versions of music magazines being a reliable source of good music, t(50) = -.30, p =.75. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05).

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Friends Recommendations (excluding social media posts) An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 6.00, SD = .98) did not differ from older participants (M = 5.73, SD = .78) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using friends recommendations to explore new music, t(50) = 1.09, p = .28. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05). No test variable for source of consistently good music was created for friends recommendations, as friends recommendations were not deemed to be a continuous provider of music. Social media news feeds, which can include posts and recommendations by friends can qualify as a continuous source of good music.

Social Media (including friends posts) An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.36, SD = 1.14) differed only slightly from older participants (M = 4.73, SD = 1.23) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using social media to explore new music, t(50) = 1.09, p = .065. The results did not qualify as being statistically significant (p > .05). Additionally, another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.90, SD = 1.16) differed only slightly from older participants (M = 4.29, SD = 1.10) regarding their perceptions of social media being a reliable source of good music, t(49) = 1.88, p =.065. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05).

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Recommendations Based on Past Purchases from iTunes, Amazon or similar

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An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.18, SD = 1.26) did not differ from older participants (M = 4.53, SD = 1.36) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using recommendations based on past purchases from iTunes, Amazon or similar services to explore new music, t(50) = 1.75, p =.09. This result was not statistically significant (p > .05). Additionally, another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.14, SD = 1.15) differed from older participants (M = 4.48, SD = 1.02) regarding their perceptions of recommendations based on past purchases from iTunes, Amazon or similar services as being a reliable source of good music, t(50) = 2.16, p =.036. This finding was statistically significant (p < .05).

Free Sample Music from iTunes or Amazon, etc. An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.91, SD = .87) did not differ from older participants (M = 4.70, SD = 1.24) regarding their perceptions of the ease of using free samples to explore new music, t(50) = .68, p = .50. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05). Another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 4.71, SD = 1.31) did not differ from older participants (M = 4.48, SD = .96) regarding their perceptions of free samples as being a reliable source of good music, t(50) = .73, p = .47. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05).

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Live Performances

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An independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.09, SD = 1.69) nearly matched the older participants (M = 5.07, SD = 1.14) regarding their perceptions of the ease of attending live performances to explore new music, t(50) = .095. This finding was not statistically significant (p > .05). Another independent samples t-test revealed that younger participants (M = 5.05, SD = 1.32) did not differ from older participants (M = 5.20, SD = 1.19) regarding their perceptions of attending live performances as being a reliable source for consistently good music, t(49) = 1.44, p = .67. This finding was not statistically significant (p >.05).

Summary of results

The first research question sought to discover how often were people listening to music and what were their preferred means for listening. The answer to the first part of the question was that, according to this study, the majority of respondents listen to music very frequently; most reported that they did not go even a day without music. The remaining research questions had to do with easy ways to explore new music and resources for consistently good music. Those answers require some boiling down of the responses. Of the emerging technology versus more traditional choices, it was expected Pandora would be popular for exploring new music among younger respondents and the results bore out that hypothesis. Younger people also seem to have embraced recommendations based on past purchases as being solid predictors and are regarded by that group as being a resource for consistently good music.

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Other results could have been viewed as being close, namely recommendations based on past purchases as an easy way to explore new music or social media as being

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easy to explore new music and a resource for good music, but the results were ultimately not statistically significant enough to say if there were differences between the age groups for these variables. While younger people are considered to be the ones to have the advantage when it comes accessing the wide range of content made available by new technologies, the older groups association of non-commercial radio as being a source for consistently good music was a resource comparatively underappreciated or perhaps unknown by the younger age group. Implications When it comes to listening to music, people continue to gravitate to products and services that are portable and intuitive. The content-producing organizations that provide the greatest variety of content will do well (iTunes, Amazon). Even public radio is undergoing a rebranding to reflect its convergence and starting to identify itself as public media (e.g., the A Prairie Home Companion radio program is produced by American Public Media). Manufacturers who bring to the market versatile, lightweight, attractive and congenial devices to carry the expanding content and do it well (iTunes, Amazon), will likely prosper. While industry trends point to convergence because of super-multitasking devices that does not mean the essence of radio, its companionability, are gone. A radio may be a device, but radio is an environment. Its a place where people go (all listeners out here in radioland) for news, sports, favorite personalities as well as music.

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Businesses, advertising agencies and media buyers who are not considering radio as part of their messaging strategies are missing the one important figure found in the environment preferences section. Of all the possible means of listening to music, 51% of people still listen to either regular commercial or non-commercial radio. With so many people spending so much time driving, rejecting radio as a possible messaging medium one that conveys messages that cannot be bypassed by a DVR, one that relies less on audience initiative than navigating to a website or Facebook page sacrifices a tremendous opportunity to reach the ear of a desired customer.

Limitations

The study was done within a short amount of time, and was necessarily scaled back from the original ambitions for the research. Tests using the gender, income and ethnic differences would have enabled the study to have further applications. To that, for the inclusion of the other data to be meaningful, the sample should have been larger. Another concern was that because of the convenience/snowball method of recruitment, the participants might have been more like-minded in their fondness of music.

The main advantage of the study was that it managed to canvass, albeit on a modest scale, a wide range of ages. This opened the study up for the possibilities to examine any noteworthy gaps, and uncover surprising commonalities.

Radio: Uses and Gratifications Future research

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The multi-generational design of the survey hinted at future research to begin a conversation between the generations. In the hypothetical event, similar results were obtained by the same survey with a larger sample, it might be interesting to have a month-long experiment where older individuals (who incidentally were not necessarily computer-illiterate) were aided in setting up Pandora accounts and younger people were asked to listen to non-commercial radio. The results would be measured by how many new artists each group discovered and, for the second question, what their postexperiment attitudes were for each as being reliable resources for consistently good music.

Conclusion

Another surprise was that radio is alive and well, especially on the road. Of all the available options, radio was still a clear winner for people listening to music in their cars. Non-commercial radio had a slight edge over commercial radio with the 3575 year-olds for being regarded as a resource for consistently good music. The continued acceptance of radio as a viable way to explore new music and for providing consistently good music persists despite in-industry grumblings over corporate consolidation and reduced career opportunities. If that trend is echoed in larger studies, as with the USA Today piece, it makes a strong case for radio as still being an effective medium for advertisers.

Radio: Uses and Gratifications References

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Freire, A. M. (2007). Remediating radio: Audio streaming, music recommendation and the discourse of radioness. Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media, 5(2/3), 97-112. doi:10.1386/rajo.5.2-3.97_1 Lieberman, D. (2011, March 21). In a renaissance for radio, more listeners are tuning in. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2011-0321-Radio-listeners-growing.htm Madden, M. (2009). The state of music online: Ten years after Napster. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved 9/25/2011 from: http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/2009/9-The-State-of-Music-Online-TenYears-After-Napster.aspx. Nash, E. (2011, October 12) How Steve Jobs saved the music industry (Web log comment). Retrieved from http://www.ednashonline.com/?p=87 NPR (2010.) Audience. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/audience.html Phillips, A. (2011, July 20). Worldwide Radio Summit. Retrieved from http://www.worldwideradiosummit.com/news.php Smith, A. (2010). Americans and their gadgets. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved 9/25/2011 from: http://pewinternet.org/reports/2010/Gadgets.aspx. Westerik, H., et al. (2006). Transcending Uses and Gratifications: Media use as social action and the use of event history analysis. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 31, 139-153. doi:10.1515/COMMUN.2006.010

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