Radio is the second least popular medium in Ukraine. According to the research by InMind for Internews Network, only 26 percent of Ukrainians listen to the radio at least once per month, and 25 percent use it as their daily source of news. These people, however, are quite committed to this media. A study by Kantar TNS shows that an average Ukrainian who listens to radio spends 260 minutes per day with it. The approximate portrait of the average listener is as following: male (54 percent), active Internet-user (84 percent), car owner (59 percent), married (61 percent), with a university degree (53 percent) and a higher-than-average level of income (57 percent).
Over the last years, few radios have started gaining a new audience due to the upsurge of online radio stations. Their growth has been enabled by the usage of smartphones and the launch of 4G mobile Internet in 2018.
Radio is also the second least-trusted medium, with 34 percent of Ukrainians trusting national radio stations and 39 percent thinking local radio stations tell the truth. As in the case with print media, these figures went up in comparison with 2017 - by 4 percent and 6 percent respectively.
The Ukrainian radio market is dominated by FM stations that prioritize mainstream music programs with focus either on Ukrainian or on Western pop music. The three most popular radio stations - Hit FM, Radio Pyatnitsa (Radio Friday), and Lux FM - fall under this category.
State-owned stations like Ukrainske Radio-1 (Ukrainian Radio-1), as well as private Radio Era, and existing on grants Hromadske Radio (Civic Radio) were the only news-and-analysis and opinion-making radio stations for a while. In 2017, Radio Era was bought by Dragon Capital, Ukraine’s largest investment company, which already owns the weekly Novoe Vremia (New Time) and nv.ua news website. In March 2018, Radio Era was transformed into Radio NV - the latest newcomer to the Ukrainian radiosphere which focuses on talks shows, interviews, as well as programs about science and culture. However, already in 2020, the owner of Radio NV announced that there would be less talk and more music on the air.
In early 2016, Ukrainian lawmakers introduced language quotas for radio stations obliging them to air at least 30 percent of songs in the Ukrainian language, in November 2018, this quota was increased to 35%. This legal change aims at boosting the Ukrainian-language music industry. Since then, radio stations have been mostly adhering to the rule, and the quotas have been upheld. However, occasionally quotes are not being met by media all across the spectrum. In this case, media become subject to fines as decided by the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine.
Currently, there are no radio stations in national minority languages (besides Russian). However, there are radio programs in most national minority languages at Suspilne (Public), Ukraine’s public broadcaster, which has local radio stations in all regions. Suspilne (Public) branches in Zakarpattia, Chernivtsi, and Odesa regions - the ones with most national minority representation - feature radio programs in Romanian, Bulgarian, Moldovan, Gagauzian, Slovak, and German. There are plans in place to expand the number of programs for national minorities.
The only areas where radio coverage is largely unavailable in the non-government-controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as Crimea, where Ukrainian radio stations have been jammed since 2014. However, Ukrainske Radio-1 (Ukrainian Radio-1) has overcome the jamming in June 2017, so Ukrainians living on the non-government-controlled territories have access to at least one Ukrainian radio station. For the Crimean audience, also from the neighboring Kherson region, Krym.Realii (Crimea.Realities), a radio created by RFE/RL is broadcasting. However, its signal reaches only the steppe regions of Crimea and is not available in large cities of the peninsula on the coast. The editors of this station are located in Kyiv, and only freelance writers work on the peninsula who have to report news anonymously or under a pseudonym. One of these authors, Nikolai Semena, was arrested by Russian security forces in 2017 and spent 2.5 years in prison. In February 2020, Semena left for mainland Ukraine. Other radio stations are available only online.