USC Study: Listeners Feel Real and Unique Connections with Radio Personalities

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USC Study: Listeners Feel Real and Unique Connections with Radio Personalities

Jun 28, 2012 4:03 PM

New York, NY- Jun 28, 2012 - A study conducted by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism that examines the unique relationship between broadcast radio listeners and on-air personalities is the first to confirm that listeners feel they have a genuine relationship with their favorite radio personalities.Among the key findings of the study, which was underwritten by Katz Radio Group, are:

� 75 percent of study respondents reported that they turn on the radio because they know their favorite personality is on the air.
� 72 percent of respondents talk to their friends about their favorite personality or what they heard on the program.
� Notably, listener engagement extended into the online realm, with nearly 70 percent of study participants reporting that they follow their favorite radio personalities and/or radio stations via social media channels.
� Nearly half (47 percent) of all respondents considered or purchased products recommended by their favorite radio personalities.
� More than half (51 percent) considered or purchased a product advertised during their favorite personality's show.
� 82 percent of study participants expressed feelings and exhibited behaviors consistent with the phenomenon known as "parasocial identification."

USC-Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism professor Paula Patnoe Woodley and Lauren Movius, PhD co-authored the study. Said Movius, "With more than half of the respondents saying their favorite radio personality influences their opinion, it is clear that parasocial interaction, or listeners' feelings that they have real relationships with radio on-air personalities, definitely exists."

Parasocial identification (PSI) was first introduced in academic settings in 1956 to describe one-sided "para-social" interpersonal relationships in which one party feels as though it knows a great deal about the other. (The phenomenon was originally used to describe the relationship television viewers developed with characters on soap operas.)

In 1987, Alan M. Rubin and Elizabeth M. Perse developed the now-standard 20-item "Parasocial Interaction Scale." The USC study used a subset of this scale to look at parasocial identification between broadcast radio listeners and their favorite on-air radio personalities. Also included in the study were hundreds of individual comments volunteered by the respondents that pointed to the personal nature of the PSI relationship with their favorite personalities.

The Los Angeles Web-based study underwritten by the Katz Radio Group was conducted in November 2011 and was completed by Woodley Communications and the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. More than 600 study participants completed all relevant measures; participation was incentivized via entry into a random drawing to win one of five $100 gift certificates. The survey sample was comprised of 70 percent women and 30 percent men, with 66 percent of participants reporting their age as between 18-34 and 90 percent of participants between 18-49 years of age. Survey sample demographics closely aligned with the composition of the Los Angeles population, with respondents consisting of 45 percent Hispanic, 8 percent Asian, 4 percent African-American, and 43 percent other (compared with 48 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Asian, 9 percent African-American, and 42 percent other, according to the most recent U.S. Census). The complete study results are available at

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