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News Radio Audience Jumps Following Hurricane Maria

2 minute read | May 2018

Hurricane Maria Sparks 100,000+ Boost in Puerto Rico News Radio Listenership

How do people get their news in the midst of a natural disaster? Radio broadcasters all around the world stay attuned to what’s happening in their local communities, particularly during times of hardship or natural disaster. Radio has the unique capacity to reach remote areas during times of catastrophe, and when it comes to providing communication and information, radio continues to be a lifeline to the most vulnerable in times of crisis.

The fall of 2017 was one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, and in places like Puerto Rico, which experienced immense damage from multiple storms, the recovery and rebuilding process continues today.

In Puerto Rico, which is a Nielsen radio diary market, the just-released winter 2018 survey reveals a rise in listening to news-formatted radio stations as a result of last year’s tumultuous weather.

Nielsen’s fall 2017 survey was not conducted after measurement operations were suspended following Hurricane Maria’s landfall on Sept 20, 2017. As infrastructure recovery has progressed, however, Nielsen has been able to resume surveying on the island.

As detailed in the chart below, which combines all of the news-formatted radio stations Nielsen measures in Puerto Rico (16 of them carrying the News/Talk format and another five broadcasting Spanish News/Talk), tune-in across Puerto Rico spiked significantly during the winter survey when compared against previous survey periods.

This mirrors the patterns we observed in both Texas and Florida, where audiences tuned into the radio for news and information during such a disruptive hurricane season. During the September portable people meter (PPM) survey, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas (on Aug. 25); just two weeks later, Hurricane Irma came ashore in Florida (on Sept. 10). These two storms affected nine different major markets. While each one was unique, there is a common thread of tune-in to local news radio stations increasing dramatically during the week those storms arrived. Regardless of evacuations, flooding, or power outages, the reach of local news radio stations spiked during the specific week those hurricanes rumbled into town.

Data used in this article is inclusive of multicultural audiences. Hispanic consumer audiences are composed of both English and Spanish-speaking representative populations.

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