Community radio captures about one third of all radio listeners in latest survey

Amy Leiper, 3rd September 2021

CBAA launches new survey service to help member stations better serve sponsors and listeners.

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) unveiled its latest listener numbers showing 31% of all radio listeners tune into community radio. The survey also revealed that 93%, or 4,697, 000 of these listeners highly valued the services they received from community radio.

Our new Community Radio Listener Survey documents the community radio listening habits of Australians and is conducted in a hybrid method using telephone and online surveys of a representative sample of 16,000 Australians over the age of 15. McNair yellowSquares, an accredited Australian market and social research organisation with a long history of media research dating back to the 1930s, surveyed listeners across all Australian states and territories on behalf of the CBAA.

Jon Bisset, CBAA’s CEO, said, “The survey provides invaluable feedback to community stations and stakeholders about trends, listeners and the sector itself. Surveying listeners twice a year helps us understand who is listening and why they tune in.

Community radio provides invaluable programs and services that our listeners cannot get anywhere else. In regional areas, it is vital, and sometimes the only source of local information. It’s important for these stations to get feedback on their programming so that they can continue to provide the services their listeners need.”

The Community Radio Listener Survey replaces the CBAA’s National Listener Survey as the sector’s leading data source. The new survey has an expanded reach – surveying more markets than ever before. New markets include Greater Newcastle, Greater Wollongong, Orange/Bathurst, Greater Tamworth, Greater Wagga Wagga, Greater Townsville, and the Central Coast. The value of community radio in regional Australia has been heightened through the 2019-20 bushfire crisis and in the COVID-19 pandemic, as locals on the ground tell their own community stories. By increasing the markets where data on community radio is available, the CBAA hopes to increase understanding and support for stations in these regions.

The survey reports will be available in July and December each year. The latest survey in July shows from a total market population of 20,620,000 people aged 15+, 24% or over 5 million are community radio listeners. Community radio listeners have an average listening time of 14 hours per week.

When asked why listeners tune in to community radio stations, the top reasons are:

49%       listen for local information and/or news

38%       like to hear music that is not available on other stations

34%       like their local personalities / voices

33%       because they support Australian or local musicians

Markets surveyed include:

Greater Sydney

Greater Newcastle

Greater Wollongong


Greater Tamworth

Greater Wagga Wagga

Greater Melbourne

Greater Brisbane

Gold Coast/Tweed

Sunshine Coast

Greater Townsville

Greater Adelaide

Greater Perth

Greater Hobart

Greater Darwin


Central Coast

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The latest listener survey for Australia’s community radio sector shows the highest national listenership on record. 


The latest research shows that 1 in 4 Australians tune in to community radio each week and spend an average of 17 hours listening.


*Past webinar - click through to view webinar recording*
This session will instruct participants on how to read the results of the most recent National Listener Survey and translate this data into information that can be used to accurately describe their listenership to their community, the regulatory body and prospective sponsors.