Arbiton Releases Study On Radio Listeners' Commute Times
March 6, 2013

Arbitron has released an analysis of radio listeners' commuting times in the car, finding that commuters in the suburban radio markets surrounding New York and Washington, D.C. spend the most time getting to their jobs each workday. The analysis looked at data from the 2007-2011 U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, using Fall 2012 Arbitron Metro definitions.

Commuters in Sussex, NJ, suffer the most compared to their workday compatriots in the rest of the Arbitron radio Metros. Sussex commuters spend an average of slightly more than 37 minutes getting to work; Fredericksburg, VA, is number two, also at slightly more than 37 minutes.

Arbitron compiled average commuting times for employed residents of its 275 radio Metros using the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2007-2011, providing radio stations with average commuting data for their specific radio market.

Since 84 percent of all drivers or passengers report use of AM/FM radio in-car, Arbitron also analyzed which formats were top in morning drive and how much time is spent listening to the radio during morning drive (Monday-Friday 6AM-10AM) in an average week. 

The top 5 markets by average travel time to work were Sussex, NJ; where the top formatted station is AC. In Fredericksburg, VA; the #2 market for commuting; Country is the top format in town. New York was ranked third, with News as the top format. Frederick, MD was ranked fourth, where Country is also the #1 format in the market. Washington, D.C. was ranked fifth and unsurprisingly, News/Talk is the top format in our nation's capitol.

While the New York and Washington, D.C., Metro are among the top five Metros for commute time, their morning drive Time Spent Listening is not on par with the other three leading commute time markets. Arbitron suggests one possible reason: these two markets are also the leading markets for public transportation. In New York, 31.6 percent take public transportation to work; in Washington, D.C, it is 14.7 percent. The company notes that "without a dashboard radio to accompany their commute, many bus and subway commuters aren’t available to contribute to the morning drive Time Spent Listening."

Away from Eastern seaboard highways and West Coast freeways, commuters in middle America have an easier time of their journey to work. Grand Forks, ND-MN, with an average commute time of just over 14 minutes, has the lowest commute time to work of all 275 metro markets. AOR is the top format in Grand Forks. The second-shortest commute is in Grand Island-Kearney, NE, where Country is the top format in the market. The third-shortest commuting time is in Cheyenne, WY, where Classic Hits rules the market. Wichita Falls, TX has the fourth-shortest commute, and Country is the top format in town. The fifth-shortest commute according to Arbitron's data is in Mankato-New Ulm-St. Peter, MN, where again Country is #1.

A full list of all 275 markets can be found here:

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Jon Zellner
EVP/Programming Operations

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