Thursday, December 14, 2006

NPR’s Worthy Audience Goal

Regular readers of radiosutton know that I think audience and revenue goals should be stated in real numbers, not percentages or averages. That’s because percentages and averages can move in the right direction for the wrong reasons.

That said -- NPR's deserves applause and support for taking on the goal of getting current listeners to tune in one more time each week by 2010. NPR calls it the 7.8 Project. The title is based on the statistic showing the average listener tunes to the average station 6.8 times per week. The goal is to improve programming and promotion so that the number from 6.8 to 7.8 tune-ins per week.

I’m not fond of the statistic, increasing the national average number of tune-ins means nothing to local stations (your mileage does vary) and a point-8 tune-in sounds like being a little bit pregnant, but the underlying concept of finding one more tune-in per listener per week is extremely strong. It is a highly actionable goal. Stations meeting it will enjoy double digit AQH increases.

In order to get one more tune-in per listener per week, most stations are going to have to make multiple improvements to their programming and promotion efforts. Fixing just one thing at station probably will not be enough. NPR is already taking steps to help stations with the task.

Some of those improvements will happen at the network level as NPR evaluates and tries to strengthen the performance of its programming. NPR announced it is looking at ways to strengthen All Things Considered and it is helping stations get better through the Morning Edition Grad School project. Drive time is a great place to start. NPR plans to enhance its promotional support too.

One of the best aspects of this goal is that there are solutions to fit every circumstance and budget. A station need not spend a lot of money to improve its on-air promotion, tighten up its local elements in Morning Edition, or replace programs that drive listeners to the competition.

But the best reason to embrace this goal is that everyone of us in public radio can go to work asking the same question, “what am I going to do today that will get one more tune-in?” The resulting collective focus on making public radio more valuable to its listeners can only help with audience growth and building listener support.

What are you going to do today to get one more tune-in?

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