“We immediately felt a difference on the phones and the level of engagement through the calls, and just the constant commenting on how great it is to be able to still hear you on the air,” Tom Poleman, iHeartMedia’s chief programming officer, tells Billboard of what led to the change. Indeed, when Duran took to his social media platforms to ask fans whether he should stay on an extra hour, his posts collectively garnered over 65,000 likes and more than 12,000 comments, making the decision to extend the morning shows an easy one.
Since the change was instituted across iHeart’s morning programs, Poleman notes the company has seen a “direct lift” in listenership across digital platforms, with spikes occurring during the show’s regular and extra hours as well as midday listening once they go off the air.
Overall, iHeartRadio usage has seen a big increase since stay-at-home orders led consumers to spend more time at home, with the company noting a 60% spike in web listening, a 35% increase in listening through smart TVs and as much as a 57% increase in listening over smart speakers. It has additionally noted an overall increase in the on-demand podcast category, with its top five on-demand shows up 9% in the month to date.
“I think it's because radio is about companionship,” says Poleman. “In times of crisis, this is when radio is at its best, because we're the ones that are not only giving them the information but also that companionship and being able to just be a comforting voice through it all.”