July 29, 2021

Radio, a centenary in the midst of an existential crisis

By Aude Dassonville

Posted today at 4:00 p.m.

For a week, between May 31 and June 6, the radio was self-celebrating, complimented, encouraged. On all the antennas of France, the private and public stations were delighted to celebrate the centenary of the first radio program on Radio Tour Eiffel, in 1921, but also the fortieth anniversary of the FM, born from the liberation of the airwaves (they were state monopoly since 1945) enacted by François Mitterrand, in 1981. We heard again the call of Abbé Pierre in 1954 on Radio Luxembourg, the horoscopes of Madame Soleil on Europe 1 and the swear words of Difool at the microphone of Skyrock. We put in our ears the stamps before the cigarettes of Jean-Luc Hees or Macha Béranger, and remembered that not so long ago, the radio of the “Grandes Gueules”, RMC, was full. voices full of sunshine.



“Radio is 40 million listeners a day and an average of two and forty-five hours of listening per day, welcomed Roch-Olivier Maistre, the president of the CSA, at the initiative of these festivities. It is the preferred medium of the French. “ The year 2020 however marked a turning point. The attendance of listeners, which nothing so far seemed likely to alter, has diminished like never before. In one year, more than 2 million followers have failed him. In the attention market, video games, Netflix series, music platforms, social networks, television, etc. argue bitterly for him “Available brain time” of consumers. However, to rock their ears, they rely more and more on podcasts: nearly a third of Internet users (31.3%) listen to them each month, an increase of 5.3 points in one year, according to the Global Radio study by Médiamétrie published in May.

Decrease of 4.4 points between 2020 and 2021

“The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated a pre-existing situation, a fundamental trend that has been observed for one to two decades”, notes Joël Ronez, founder of the podcast studio Binge Audio and president of the Union of independent audio producers (PIA). In fact, the cumulative audience criterion, which counts the number (or percentage) of listeners who listened to at least one radio station during a day, showed a spectacular drop of 4.4 points between the start of 2020. and early 2021, increasing the proportion of listeners from 77.6% to 73.2% of the French population. The pandemic context is not foreign to the phenomenon, but in 2010, they were still 82.7%, and in the first quarter of 2003, according to the oldest figure (established with the same calculation method) that can be found over this period, they were 86.8%.

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