In the digital age, radio is often perceived as a dying medium. Yet, a careful analysis reveals its enduring relevance. 

Since the late 19th century, radio has continued to be a critical medium for information, entertainment, and education. Despite the rise of on-demand services and social media, it’s far from obsolete. 

Current trends and consumer insights highlight radio’s resilience, demonstrating its ongoing impact on daily life. 

Radio’s Resilience

Recent Radio Audience Measurement (Rams) data affirms the robust status of radio in South Africa, with 75% of South Africans age 15 and above tuning in weekly, and an average daily engagement time of over five hours. Even during digital growth, radio maintains its grip, with significant portions of social media users and music streamers also being weekly radio listeners.

This vitality can be attributed to radio’s accessibility—reaching all socio-economic groups, and diversity—over 300 stations broadcasting in 11 official languages catering to multiple audiences. 

Radio’s intimacy and cultural ties play an essential role in its success, making it paramount in community building. Its stations often act as cultural hubs providing platforms for communal voices, hence contributing to the social fabric of the community.

Radio’s resilience is further celebrated on World Radio Day, highlighting its resilient ability to inform, entertain, and educate since 1894 and its evolution to over 44,000 stations worldwide.

The Community Connection

Community radio in South Africa goes beyond traditional broadcasting, weaving the social fabric with hyper-local news and customised content in 11 official languages.

It’s an avenue of expression and representation for marginalised communities, offering a unique blend of local music, culture, and the opportunity for citizens to engage actively with issues that directly impact their lives—effectively bridging the digital divide. 

Local businesses thrive through community radio’s targeted and affordable advertising, fostering economic growth. These stations are vital in nurturing civic participation and proving pivotal in educational outreach, making them more than broadcasters, but partners in community development. 

Consumer Insights on Radio Listenership

Recent data on radio listenership present interesting insights into consumer behaviour, the sentimental value connected to radio, its convenience, and the unique content it offers. Here is a detailed look at data from YouGov profiles:

Devices Used for Streaming Radio

Respondents were asked which devices they use for streaming radio. Results are as follows:

  • Smartphone: 66.74%
  • Desktop/Laptop: 34.60%
  • Smart Speaker: 27.10%
  • In-car Stereo System: 18.09%

Weekly Listening Duration

Respondents provided insights on hours spent listening to the radio weekly:

  • 1-5 hours per week: 27.89%
  • 6-10 hours per week: 17.12%
  • Less than 1 hour per week: 14.22%
  • 11-15 hours per week: 9.60%
  • 16-20 hours per week: 7.13%

Preferred Times for Listening

Prefered times to tune in, by the period of the week:

  • Weekdays 06:00-10:00: 39.91%
  • Weekdays 00:00 – 06:00: 34.24%
  • Weekdays 10:00-13:00: 27.39%
  • Weekdays 16:00-19:00: 25.89%
  • Weekdays 13:00-16:00: 24.56%

Listener Attitudes

Participants shared their attitudes towards various aspects of radio:

  • “I listen to the radio in the background when I am on my own” – 70.37% agree
  • “I notice the advertisements on the radio more than elsewhere” – 54.99% agree
  • “I prefer to listen to local radio stations” – 69.55% agree
  • “I sometimes rely on the radio for companionship” – 59.45% agree
  • “Online radio has totally changed how I see the radio” – 55.30% agree

This data underscores radio’s firm position in daily routines, reflecting its cherished status as a companion, a source of local resonance, and an influential advertising platform.

The Road Ahead for Radio

In the face of rapid technological advancements, radio’s future is embossed with exciting prospects. 

The rise of AI and IoT (Internet of Things) presents opportunities for more personalised, easy-to-access listening experiences. Hyper-local and on-demand content, alongside a growing inclination towards podcasting, will likely drive future programming strategies. 

Additionally, new-age audience engagement practices will leverage digital analytics to customise content and enhance interactivity, fostering a greater sense of connection. 

With radio’s deep roots and proven adaptability, it stands prepared to evolve and thrive, crafting a future that is as engaging and dynamic as its storied past.


We have taken on a fascinating exploration of radio’s rich history, its current global reach and captivating impact, as reflected in recent YouGov and Rams data. 

From its early beginnings to the shifts brought about by technological advancements, radio has remained a resilient companion, consistently informing, entertaining, and educating audiences around the world.

Despite the rise of various digital media platforms, radio’s resilience and adaptability are unquestionable. Its unique blend of locality, personalisation, immediacy, and accessibility has strengthened a unique connection with its audience over the years, ensuring its continued relevance and resonance. And it’s not just about survival- radio continues to innovate and evolve, embracing new technologies and audience engagement strategies to deliver an improved and personalised listening experience.


Profiles:  Segmentation and media planning tool. YouGov Profiles makes it simple to find and understand the audience that matters most to you. With data collected daily, it gives you the power to build and customise a portrait of your consumers’ entire world with unrivalled granularity. More than 9 000 variables are available in South Africa.

Dataset:  2024- 03-31

Population:  South African adults with access to the internet aged 18+

n – 6310