Saturday, March 25, 2006

It's Not Bypass, It's Listener Choice

"Bypass" is the term public radio people use when discussing NPR's forays into satellite radio, podcasting, and Internet streaming. The concern is that NPR can bypass stations and reach listeners directly. Implicit, but not spoken, is that bypass is a two-way highway.

If bypass is going to be a problem, it is because listeners will choose to bypass local stations.

Why would listeners choose Morning Edition on the satellite and bypass Morning Edition on their local station? What would cause a donor to abandon the station he's listened to for six years and supported with cash for three? Why would a potential new listener choose a morning program void of any local information whatsoever?

Is the fear that listeners will be drawn away by something better or pushed away by something they don't like?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't that the establishment is worried about having something better. It is because that we know that our "highly educated" audience is not all perfect core-listeners. That the majority of them would prefer to hear a stripped down version of ME or ATC, to get the weather online instead of waiting on it, that just about ANY local information can be found now another way, that the overwhelming amount of "local news" is not original or doesn't advance a story (NPR sometimes doesn't do a very good job of that either) and because they're naturally lazy they would just keep the sat feed on because they listen to the satellite for everything else.

A migration from terrestrial to satellite if ME/ATC were on the bird will not be the death of public radio, it will be the death of public radio as we know it and we will be forced to become something that very, very few people inside the business are equipped to handle at this point. The individual stations significantly helped create NPR into what it is. Eventually they will be left behind. As anyone knows, when you play a game with someone else's bat and ball and on their own field, doesn't matter how good you might become, it's not your product. As much as stations claim to "own" the product they/we don't.

Oh, and btw, I do agree with most of your points, John, it's just that sometimes I get a little peeved that you seemingly only have pure numbers (and not real humans) in mind when drawing conclusions ... just 2 cents ...

1:36 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

Thanks for the 2-cents. That would be a net 3-cents for me since I usually offer a penny for the thoughts of others.

Bad jokes aside, I'm sorry that it seems to you I don't have real humans in mind. I do. I always think about serving real humans whose lives are enriched by our programs. I think about how they treat others with more respect because they know more about the human condition. I think about how listening to public radio causes them to get involved in promoting social justice. I think about how they participate in the cultural life of their communities because we connect them with local arts organizations. I think about how much better the world would be if more people spent more time letting public radio have a positive influence on their lives.
Cumes and AQHs are real people. Without them, our mission is meaningless.

9:11 PM  

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