The Source
June • 2015
Studies Say Radio Still #1 Source of Local Info for Motorists
Don't tweet, text or post
if you're talking to travelers.
DETROIT, MI: The conventional radio receiver is still king of the dashboard. That’s the upshot of two new surveys that considered how consumers use a variety of media in the modern age.

Michigan-based Jacobs Media’s “Techsurvey11” recently sampled more than 41,000 respondents of all ages and found that conventional broadcast radio is used regularly as an information source by 92% of respondents − the highest percentage score for any aural medium. Competitors such as smartphones and satellite radio all scored lower.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents said that a key advantage for radio broadcasting is its ability to provide local information. A full 50% of radio listeners said they only use the medium while in their cars. And 89% of potential car buyers say that a radio receiver is “very important” in their new vehicle.
 
A second study by Strategy Analytics, affirms the latter result. That survey shows that 79% of all automobile buyers consider radio a “must have” on their dashboards. Only 4% do not see the value of having a radio receiver in their car.

Considered together, these results depict radio as continuing to be an efficient means of sourcing localized information, and especially for motorists − explaining why a driver will opt for a local radio station when he or she needs information quickly in an emergency.

Incidents that impact motorists become obvious opportunities to leverage radio technology to assist a local population: road closures due to wildfire, flooding, storms, earthquake or HAZMAT, hurricane evacuations, traffic incidents, highway construction or infrastructure failures, etc.

The hundreds of local communities nationwide that have installed 10-watt Information Radio services specifically to speak to citizens under such circumstances have apparently made a very good choice.

See also The Source, October 2014, which cites studies that say in-car radio listening is rated by drivers as less distracting than cell phones.
Knowing Weather, It's Necessary
Rules governing forecasts on Information Radio (TIS) stations remain mostly cloudy.
WASHINGTON, DC: Feeling “up in the air” about whether you can broadcast weather content on your Information Station (TIS)? You are not alone. The conventional wisdom that weather info is helpful to those behind the wheel is something the FCC finds hard to wrap its collective mind around. Perhaps the commissioners all ride the Metro.

But it’s not as if the FCC has not vacillated on this topic over the years.
In its original 1975 "Proposed Rulemaking," the Commission itself said that weather forecasts would be a logical content item for the then fledgling TIS service. But by the time the rules were published two years later, that phrase had taken flight. Its absence however did not stop hundreds of station operators from airing forecasts rebroadcast from NOAA Weather Radio as motorist “travel advisories” − a content item allowed by FCC rules.

Then in 2006, the FCC’s western enforcement bureau reprimanded a handful of surprised licensees for the rebroadcast of NOAA Weather Radio programming, “explaining” it did not comply with content rules for TIS. By doing so, the FCC was saying that weather information was not a “travel advisory.” That curious proclamation precipitated the formation of the American Association of Information Radio Operators (AAIRO) – a group of hundreds of local governments and agencies that operate TIS stations – who, in a formal petition, asked the FCC to lay out its rationale.
 
"More of what you call a guideline than actual rules..."
Seven years later, AAIRO received the FCC’s answer, which explained the Commission’s current position on the topic. Strap yourself in. The Commission reasoned that because the TIS service is not designed for general public information but for specific information related to a targeted geographic area, “routine” weather information publically available through many sources is not appropriate and that its inclusion would “dilute the effectiveness” of this localized service.

But, said the FCC, there are some exceptions:

The first is that NOAA Weather Radio/All Hazard warnings are acceptable at any time, because they inform the listener of an “imminent danger” to life and property − something TIS stations are always allowed to broadcast. So stations that automatically interrupt programming to broadcast NOAA All Hazard warnings are OK.

The second exception: If the operator of the TIS station determines that NOAA content at any time would be important to keep the public apprised of an “existing or potential hazard,” then that is allowed, as well. The determination on what is or is not hazardous / potentially hazardous NOAA content is at the discretion of the operator and does not require prior FCC approval.

The FCC summarized that it has now provided “sufficient flexibility to public safety authorities to broadcast necessary weather information over TIS.” All the operator needs to determine is what’s “necessary.”
Click here for an easy-to-remember formula to determine permitted TIS content.