Tunes Online

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Internet usage is cutting into radio: According to a telephone survey by Edison Media Research and Arbitron, online Americans listen to the radio an average of 90 minutes less per week than those who aren't online. That difference could spell a sharp erosion of audience share for the nation's broadcasters. Managed correctly, however, they could turn the Internet to their advantage through radio station Web sites. Awareness of Web-based radio is growing rapidly, as is the number of people who've tuned in online. Between July 1998 and January 1999, one-time online radio listenership among all Americans jumped from 6 percent to 13 percent.

Problem is, most people sample Web radio but don't return regularly. Even radio-station Web sites, a much simpler undertaking than a Web radio station, face a struggle for acceptance. Although 84 percent of online listeners said they would likely seek information on products and services from a station's site, they're not comfortable buying items there.

Seventy percent of online radiophiles said they would be interested in visiting a station Web site to find out about community events; 69 percent wanted concert information; 61 percent wanted information on titles and artists; and 59 percent were just interested in listening.

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