USC Study Confirms Listeners Feel Connections With Radio Personalities

New York, NY- June 28, 2012 - A study conducted by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & 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, the nation's leading radio representation firm - 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%) of all respondents considered or purchased products recommended by their favorite radio personalities;
More than half (51%) considered or purchased a product advertised during their favorite personality's show; and
Fully 82 percent of study participants expressed feelings and exhibited behaviors consistent with the phenomenon known as "parasocial identification."

"Our findings underscore the depth of the relationship, loyalty, and trust between listeners and radio personalities," said USC-Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism professor Paula Patnoe Woodley. "This connection can be a significant benefit for radio station advertisers as demonstrated by the significant number of study respondents who have considered or purchased services or products advertised during radio shows or recommended by favorite on-air personalities."

Said Lauren Movius, PhD, co-author of the study with Woodley, "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 they know a great deal about the other. (The phenomenon was originally used to describe the relationship television viewers developed with characters on soap operas.)

Parasocial Interaction Findings

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 unique emotional connection that exists between radio personalities and listeners is real and should not be underestimated," said Mary Beth Garber, Executive Vice President, Radio Analysis and Insights, Katz Radio Group. "Radio is the only media platform that allows people to have an intimate, ongoing and evolving personal relationship with on-air personalities. Advertisers that are able to appreciate the unique value of these powerful connections stand to benefit tremendously."

I listen to this radio personality whenever I can

Survey Methodology
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

About USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Today, with more than 83 full-time faculty members and 120 adjunct professors, more than 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students, and dozens of research and public interest projects and programs, including the Norman Lear Center and the Knight Digital Media Center, USC Annenberg has become a center for discussion among scholars and professionals in journalism, communication, public policy, media, and education.

Multidisciplinary and international in scope, focused and practical in application, USC Annenberg scholars, both students and faculty, are defining these fields for the 21st century and beyond. Visit for more information.

About Katz Media Group
A subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, Katz Media Group is based in New York and has 19 regional offices. Founded in 1888, the company was the nation's first media representation firm and today represents nearly 4,000 radio stations and 700 television and digital multicast stations. In addition, Katz represents more than 4,000 online publishers across audio, video, display email and mobile channels. Additional information can be found at

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