Two things are remarkable about voting day in 1920. It was the first time, ever, women could participate in the selection of the U.S. President. It was also the first time live election results were broadcast on the radio. Not to mention, it was also the first radio broadcast, ever.
The voters' choice that night was between Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox. Both men had derived their political power as successful newspaper publishers. It is quite ironic, then, that one of these men would reach the highest office in the land on the same night that the nascent radio broadcasting business began its takedown of the newspaper industry.
Nowhere is this takedown more apparent than locally, where radio has become, by far, the advertising medium with the largest reach among New England consumers.
Last week, for instance, 3,543,709 adult consumers tuned to their favorite Boston radio stations. This significantly eclipses all other local media including newspaper and television.
Every year since 1970, AM/FM radio's reach has remained stable among adult consumers. During that same period, though, newspaper readership has plummeted.
Look at the Boston Globe, for example. Since the second quarter of 2017, the circulation of the newspaper's daily edition has declined by 21%. The Sunday paper dropped by 24% during the same period.
The Boston Herald has suffered similar declines in readership.
Although local newspaper's remaining appeal is among older readers, Boston radio is now the primary medium of choice among every demographic. This includes Generation X, Y, & Z. Millennials. Boomers. Everybody.
The most important metric, though, for small business owners to consider is not the sheer size of an audience, but the quality of the audience. In the socio-economic categories which most advertisers covet, Boston radio dominates over local newspaper.
For small business owners who advertise on radio, there is little need to also put ads in the newspaper. Each week, according to Nielsen, 91% of New England consumers who read a local newspaper are also reached by Boston radio stations. While only 56% of the radio audience can be reached in print.
By any criteria, radio advertising is superior to newspaper for helping Boston area small business owners claim a share of the $101 billion local consumers will spend this year.