NextRadio® app average session listening minutes in four Gulf Coast states spiked 10.2% in  August. Perhaps not surprisingly, the heaviest listening correlated with some of the summer’s nastiest weather on August 3-5, and epic flooding that occurred the next week.

Using NextRadio’s in-app analysis, we look at data across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. We found that the average session listening time had increased 10.2% in August – 33.8 minutes as compared to the previous six-month average of 30 minutes.

Session listening time equates to how long an app user is tuned to a particular radio station before switching to another station or tuning out.

Versus the six-month average, app users in the four states extended their session listening time by 8.4, 4.5 and 6 minutes August 3-5. During this timeframe, the region was hit with severe thunderstorms, including tornados that touched down in Louisiana and Florida on August 4. Listening time throughout the region rose 7.2, 7.7 and 4.9 minutes above average on August 10-12, correlating with severe flooding.

Storms, flooding drive Louisiana residents to the radio for information

People definitely  turn to media outlets when skies darken. So it’s no surprise that the number of session listening minutes in Louisiana spiked to 40.6 on August 4, the day an EF-0 tornado tore through a New Orleans neighborhood. Severe flooding hit Louisiana the very next week. NextRadio data shows:

  • August 9 – listening tracks with normal average (30 minutes),
  • August 10 – listening extends to 31.1 minutes,
  • August 11 – listening spikes to 34.8 minutes the day serious flooding begins,
  • August 12 – listening lags a bit, down to 28.7 minutes,
  • August 13 – listening drops further to 23 minutes.

Although weekend radio numbers are typically lower than those of weekdays, the marked decrease during August 12-13 looks to align with news of several radio broadcasters throughout Louisiana being off the air at the height of the flooding and for some time afterward, as reported by RadioWorld.

In an unsolicited plug for NextRadio, Polly Prince Johnson, president/CEO of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, told RadioWorld: “AT&T didn’t have any service at the high point of the flooding. People couldn’t make calls but if they had the (NextRadio) app on their cell phone they could have listened to local radio for emergency information,” she says.

Chips in smartphones earn media mentions

Once again, the radio broadcast industry points to the importance of FM radio in warning people about dangerous weather conditions.

Gerard Landry, mayor of Denham Springs, LA, was quoted by InsideRadio as saying, “I just cannot thank you guys enough for getting the message out,” during an appearance on Guaranty Broadcasting’s “Talk 107.3” WBRP, Baton Rouge. “I haven’t seen a newspaper or watched TV for eight or nine days but everybody has a radio—thank goodness for that,” he added.

InsideRadio also interviewed Prince Johnson, who noted: “Some of these places didn’t have electricity and if the FM chip was on their phones they could have been listening to our local broadcasters who were giving lifesaving information.”

Stations should direct their listeners to the NextRadio app

Advising audiences that they can find their favorite local stations on the NextRadio app is critical during dangerous weather. Electrical outages and a widespread AT&T cell outage across flooded regions of Louisiana posed problems for keeping the public informed. New Emergency Alert System news sent directly to local cellphones stumbled a bit, too, when reports came that many people turned off the alerts to preserve their phone’s battery life.

Chris Guilbeaux, Deputy Director of Preparedness + Response + Interoperability for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness delivered a report that warned of delays in alert messages to the public. In some geographic areas, he wrote, alerts were interrupted for extended periods of time. Guilbeaux cited problems such as internet and cellular telephone networks becoming overloaded with traffic or flood water damaging key cellular infrastructure sites, particularly in Baton Rouge.

FM Radio on smartphones, as provided by the NextRadio app, is certainly a safety feature for the nation. App users save 75% of battery life versus streaming and 92% of a data plan – assuming that data is available during a storm. The NextRadio app is a great tool for people to turn to, and one that broadcasters should be continually talking up.

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