Quick: what's the leading morning radio news program in the United States? Labels: Radio
At first, you might think your favorite local All News commercial station. WINS-AM, WCBS-AM in New York; WBBM-AM, WGN-AM in Chicago; KFI-AM, KABC-AM in Los Angeles; KGO-AM in San Francisco all quickly come to mind. Each of these stations have a million or two regular listeners during the week. However, all of those stations pale in audience reach compared to America's radio network: NPR.
And America's #1 morning radio news program?
You know it. You've probably listened to it. And you may even have its coffee mug after making a contribution. Fox News may bombastically push its patriotism in your face. And the Colbert Report may sarcastically flagwave with mock satire right back at Fox exposing their idiocy with a smile and the proud "chaw" sound of an American bald eagle behind him in support.
But it's NPR that really gets liberty right.
Informative and real. Open. Unbiased. Fair...without fear tactics. And without commercials. What's not to love?
It's the one dependable media space for "middle America" -- where moderates and centrists gather with tremendous loyalty.
For most of its existence, National Public Radio has been one of media's quietest success stories. For all the crazy excitement about new technologies for radio -- internet streaming, cellphone streaming, satellite, HD Radio -- NPR has just kept on doing what it does best: inform and educate the American public with topics and news that helps its listeners understand the world a little better.
Since NPR's founding in 1970, it has become a dominant intellectual and entertainment force in American life and a primary source of news for millions. NPR programming is heard on more than 800 independent public radio stations. It's not commercial -- it's funded by taxpayers and individual donations. In the crassness of this commercial radio age -- with every possible part of programming squeezed for optimal revenues to please Wall Street, NPR sounds like (and often is) a charming oasis of basic Americana minus all the hype.
And yet, because it is ignored by commercial ratings services (Arbitron) and it doesn't have the marketing budgets of the commercial broadcasters, most whom think of radio categorize NPR as a separate media, even though it shares space on the same radio dial as commercial radio.
Get this: the audience for NPR programming has doubled in the last ten years to 26 million weekly listeners. Since Fall 2000, the audience to NPR programming has added nearly 8 million listeners, an increase of 40 percent. In the early 1980s, only about about 2 million people listened to NPR.
That's huge growth...all under the radar. More and more in the last decade with Joint Communications research, we have seen NPR stations play an important role for understanding competitive market dynamics and audience sharing. Often, some formats (such as Modern Rock, Triple A and Oldies) have a high level of audience sharing with the local NPR station.
According to a new study from The Media Audit and IPSOS -- which did a telephone survey with 114,035 adults across 84 cities in 2005 and early 2006, National Public Radio is the 4th most listened to radio format in the country.
The big difference: NPR is a national network truly broadcasting its format across the nation (as well as the world through new media partnerships and internet streaming). The leading commercial formats -- led by News/Talk -- broadcast their formats individually, unique to each market.
While NPR is not a big factor in terms competing for advertising dollars, it is a major factor in some markets for gathering large audiences completely unavailable to commercial radio. It's a reminder for commercial radio programmers to know their entire competitive landscape.
Don't be surprised if NPR suddenly pops on your radar. As a media trend, NPR airwaves to the people have made a great American success story.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Thursday, August 10, 2006,