It is getting hard to buy a radio for home use. And there are a surprising number of households who no longer have a home radio. And a surprising number of public radio users who have no idea how to stream the radio station, or how to access podcasts.

With commute time declines reducing public radio listening in cars it’s important to look at what we can do to stabilize and reverse those audience declines and educate our audiences on how to access the station in the digital age.

Jabobs Media TechSurvey has noted three years running that they have rarely seen use of any gadget grow as quickly as the Smart Speaker. From 12% ownership in 2017 to 27% ownership among public radio listeners in 2020. Millennials and Gen X account for even higher ownership percentages at 35%. Four in ten people own more than one smart speaker.

Listening to a local radio station and streaming music are the top uses for smart speakers with 38% of owners using it for one or both of those uses. 19% of all smart speaker owners say they are listening to more radio, across all generations and across ethnic groups. 38% of public radio listeners listen to podcasts/on-demand audio weekly or more. Your streaming services, podcasts, and short features can be called up on the Amazon Echo (Alexa), the most open of the smart speakers. If you don’t own a smart speaker, Jacobs suggests you get one, use it, and learn how you want your station to be represented on this new gadget.

On your website you can promote multiple URLs pointing to different sections of your site, but on smart speakers you get only one “invocation”. Make sure it’s a good one and make sure your listeners know what it is. One station created a refrigerator magnet with the invocation “Alexa, open [xx] with the station logo.

Promote your stations’ availability on smart speakers on the air and on the web consistently and aggressively throughout the year using your invocation (your “handle” in smart speaker lingo). Because Boomers and the Greatest generations report that they don’t know how to access podcasts and streaming, consider creating videos and tutorials for your website teaching listeners how to use the smart speaker to access your programming.

For details and more information including blog posts and webinars, visit the Jacobs Media website  and to download the slide deck.