Heavy Radio Listeners in Latin America
According to the 1998 Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica study, the average Latin American between the ages of 12 and 64 years old spends an average of 2.7 hours per day listening to radio. During the typical week, 85.2% of these people listen to radio at some point.
As with most mass activity, we expect that some people listen to radio more often than others and that a small proportion of the population account for a disproportionately higher proportion of total volume of listening. For this article, we define a 'heavy radio listening' as a person who listens to an average of four or more hours of radio each day. According to the 1998 Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica study, 25.5% of Latin Americans can be characterized as heavy radio listeners. These heavy radio listeners spend an average of 6.3 hours per day listening to radio and account for 60% of the total volume of radio listening.
Who are these people? What are their characteristics? The following table provides the incidence of heavy radio listener by demographic group. Marginally speaking, the heavy radio listeners are more likely to be found in the southern countries (Argentina, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay), female and18-34 years old.
|Demographic Characteristics||% Heavy Radio Listeners|
Balance of Central America
Balance of South America
|Major Urban Areas||28%|
Less than 6 years
Six or more, but less than 12
12 years or more
A (Upper 10%)
B (Next 20%)
C (Next 30%)
D (Bottom 40%)
When do the heavy radio listeners listen to radio? The next table shows the time spent on radio listening by different time periods within the day. In this table, we have shown the time spent listening (in hours) by heavy and non-heavy radio listeners, and we computed an index that is the ratio of the two numbers. Therefore, a high index means that the heavy radio listeners spends relatively much more time. The heavy radio listeners simply listen to more radio at all times of day. Relatively speaking, the differences in time spent are least (that is, the indices are smallest) during the prime dayparts for radio (namely, between 6am and 10am). The absolute gap in time spent is during the day on weekdays. This points to the fact that someone can accumulate a very large number of radio listening hours if they either stay at home with the radio in playing in the background, or if they work in an environment where the radio is playing.
|Daypart||Radio daily listening hours by Heavy Radio Listeners||Radio daily listening hours by Non-Heavy Radio Listeners||Index|
What do these heavy radio listeners listen to on radio? The next table shows the types of program regularly listened to by heavy and non-heavy radio listeners. Since all the indices are greater than 100, the heavy radio listeners simply listen to more of everything.
|Radio Program Type||% Heavy Radio Listeners
|% Non-Heavy Radio
|Top 40 hits||12%||6%||224|
|Spanish pop music||27%||17%||162|
|Spanish rock music||21%||11%||191|
|Portuguese pop music||33%||24%||141|
|Portuguese rock music||11%||7%||169|
|English pop music||31%||18%||172|
|English rock music||21%||11%||184|
If we consider the fact that each person has exactly 24 hours at their disposal each day, then what one does becomes an allocation problem within a constrained budget. At any moment, there are multiple available choices and the person chooses whichever maximizes his/her utility (in the sense used by economists). As we have reported in the beginning, the average Latin American spends an average of 2.7 hours per day listening to radio (possibly concurrently with other types of activities such as housework or commuting). By comparison, this same average Latin American spends an average of 4.49 hours a day watching television.
The heavy radio listener spends an average of 4.43 hours a day watching television, compared to the 4.51 hours for the non-heavy radio listener. So the radio listening did not significantly displace television viewing by heavy radio listeners.
(posted by Roland Soong on 12/2/00)
(Return to Zona Latina's Home Page)