Looking Beyond the Spoken Word on Radio to Reach Voters

Looking Beyond the Spoken Word on Radio to Reach Voters

While News/Talk stations may be the most popular venue on radio for political commentary, Adult Contemporary (AC) and Classic Hits also rank among the top five most popular formats for voters. In fact, AC is one of the most popular and wide-reaching formats overall. And this popularity skews its audiences’ political preferences to mirror the national average. On average, 43% of AC radio listeners in PPM markets are independent/unregistered, the same rate as the total U.S.

Interestingly, Hot AC, the younger-skewing cousin of AC, brings a higher concentration of Mild Republicans and fewer Conservative Democrats than AC overall. But a still significant 29% of Hot AC listeners don’t identify with any political ideology, offering campaigns the opportunity to reach undecided voters.

Classic Hits, on the other hand, has a slightly older audience and therefore a higher concentration of registered voters (76%). Oldies has a similar audience to Classic Hits—in fact, many Classic Hits stations used to call themselves Oldies—but Oldies listeners are even more politically engaged. Nearly 80% of Oldies listeners are registered voters. And the format attracts more listeners on either end of the political spectrum—the percentages of Super Democrats and Ultra Conservative Republicans are each three points higher than the U.S. average. But Oldies’ has the greatest concentration of Mild Republicans—12 points higher than the U.S. average.

This just goes to show, on the radio, interested voters aren’t just looking for political talk. Political advertisers who look past spoken word radio will find many formats that can deliver voters of all kinds.

Nielsen combined portable people meter (PPM) data and Experian’s Political Voting Behavior to determine which radio formats resonate with specific voter segments across four major political groups—Democrats, Independents, Republic and Unregistered. The study looked at listening and voting behavior of more than 70,000 panelists, 18-plus, in 45 major U.S. markets. 

Visit Nielsen’s Election Central for more political insights.