On good days, local radio goes about the business of informing and entertaining our diverse audiences. And then there are the Harvey days. When broadcasters embrace the critical role of keeping people informed during an emergency situation.

Our NextRadio data team has tracked listening during several storms and we’re seeing a pattern emerge. People use their phones to tune to radio in massive numbers.

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Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday, August 25 at Corpus Christi, Texas. Compared with an average Friday, local NextRadio listening was up 186% and session starts up 124%. Total listening minutes were down 3% and TSL per session down 54%.

As the storm continued to pound Houston on Sunday, August 27, the number of NextRadio listeners here rose 50% and session starts rose 22%. Total listening minutes were down 11% and TSL per session down 26%.

This echoes what we saw during a 2016 tornado in Kokomo, Indiana. The number of NextRadio listeners spiked 4.2 times the daily average. Yet session minutes were down.

We see a correlation of sessions going up but length going down as we believe people are checking back more frequently for up-to-the-minute news.

Listening numbers also rose outside the direct path 

Listening to radio on your phone trended similarly in Texas markets not directly impacted by Harvey.

In Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, the number of listeners tuning to radio via the NextRadio app was up 79%, 52% and 34%, respectively. TSL by session was down 27%, 29% and 8% for these markets.

Built for times like these

Oscar Rodriguez, President of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, led an effort to remind people with Android phones to download the NextRadio app. On Friday, he encouraged all stations to mention listening via the app, citing benefits of the FM chip in preserving battery life and data packages.

We appreciate Mr. Rodriguez’s support for NextRadio. As always, the radio industry comes together on one of our core missions: Public safety. We’re proud to play a role in helping people seek out the lifeline that is local radio when they desperately need information, and tune in and out as their situation requires.

People need radio. And radio never fails them. No matter what kind of day it is.

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