Public Radio 101


Public Radio 101
Public Radio 101
Sheila Rue
John Sutton
Peter Dominowski
Public Radio 101
• What you’ll learn:
– Basic research-proven concepts that shape how
and what we program and produce, and how this
translates to individual giving
• A ‘practical application’ session not a ‘data
intensive’ session
– Any of us will be happy to share source material
for the data and concepts that we discuss
• We’ll leave time for your questions
Core Values
Defining public radio’s fundamental appeal
The context of Core Values
• A real, practical, actionable resource
• The Core Values are the audience’s
expression of our qualities and characteristics
• Public radio’s Core Values bind us together
regardless of market size, budget, staff
resources or format
Qualities of the Mind and Intellect
Love of life-long learning
Respect for the Listener
Qualities of the Heart and Spirit
Inspired about public life and culture
Qualities of Craft
Use of the Medium
• Uniquely Human Voice
• Pacing
• Attention to Detail
• The fusion of these three sets of core
values that creates public radio’s
signature sound and the fundamental
appeal of our programming to our core
Core Values -- News
• Listeners want a
comprehensive range of
information and news
• No event is isolated on
any level
• Listeners want in-depth
• The most highly valued
news integrates their
experiences as citizens in
their communities, the
nation and the world
…local, national,
…think about larger
Core Values – Classical Music
• The primary benefit
provided by
classical music radio
is stress relief.
“…it’s soothing…”
• The second major
benefit provided by
classical stations is
clarity of mind.
With a clear mind,
listeners can focus
and concentrate.
“…relaxes like yoga …”
Jazz Core Values
 The primary benefits provided
by jazz radio is joy and energy
“…fun, interesting, real…”
Core Values -- Dual Format
• Core values of classical
music are universal
• Benefits are the same
whether on a dual or
classical station
• Benefits:
– stress relief
– clarity of mind
• Dual format listening:
– some classical
listeners use the NPR
news magazines
– other classical
listeners avoid the
NPR news
For more info: (publications)
Programming Causes Audience
Technology Causes Audience
Programming Causes Audience
Facebook Causes Audience
Marketing Causes Audience
Content Causes Audience
Great Programming
• Is the cornerstone of our mission
• Is a station responsibility
• Consists of both Macro and Micro elements
Macro Programming
• Great stories well told
• Smart program scheduling
• What does inconsistent programming sound
like to listeners?
• Mixed format means less service
Listening to Radio
Source: Arbitron PPM
Micro Programming
• Airsound
• Formatics
• Promotion
• Staying listener focused
• Then there is positioning…
Audience Myth Buster
“If only more people knew we existed.”
Mid-Market Station: Full Week Cume - Non-Pledge Month
Avg Week Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 4 Week
121,500 91,700 116,800 125,900 151,900 231,900
Source: Nielsen, PPM Persons 6+, Mon-Sun 6a-12m
Graph Courtesy of WLRN
• Demographics for all of public radio
– Median Age is 50
• 41% under the age of 45
– 55% Men
– 62% College Grads
• Psychographics/VALS
Why Do They Give?
• Reliance
– Loyalty
– Core/Fringe
– Years Spent Listening
• Personal importance
– Enlightened Self-Interest
Membership Myth Buster
“Only 1-in-10 Listeners Give”
The "Bad" Math
Weekly Cume
Annual Members
% Listeners Who Give
“Only 1-in-10 Listeners Give”
• Your Annual Cume is much bigger than your
Weekly Cume
• Most Households give once, even if 2 or more
people listen
• “Member churn” is around 40%
– Having 10,000 two years in a row requires having
14,000 different givers
Three Things About Fundraising
• The most successful membership programs
raise more money outside of pledge drives
• Pledge drives
– Not a cause for giving, but a catalyst!
– Pledge drive disruption is real
• Potential new members are a lot like current
members but will give less money, at first
More Myths
• Listener E-mails, Phone Calls, and Social Media
responses represent the larger audience
• Mobile is the Future, At-home listening is a thing of the
• The new coffee mug worked!