A Brighter Outlook
The Bridge numbers seem optimistic given the prevailing mood in public radio. Several bloggers reporting from the Public Media conference in Boston a few weeks ago referred to a sense of gloom and doom. Then again, that could just be the industry’s scarcity mentality. Public radio has always had a low opinion of its potential.
Seldom do we look at the coming change and talk about doubling the number of weekly listeners to public radio. In fact, we’re often told these days that we shouldn’t think of them as listeners. That’s absurd, of course, because there will be billions of opportunities per year to provide public service through people’s ears.
If anything, the number of opportunities to provide public service is increasing several times over. The Bridge Ratings study reports that Internet radio is expected to have a monthly audience of 197,000,000 in 2010, a gain 140 million new listeners. It projects that 109,000,000 people will stream content over mobile phones. Every one of those people will be able to access any terrestrial radio station that streams it programming.
This is an important point. New delivery platforms are increasing, not decreasing, the number of potential listeners to public radio. That’s true even if the Bridge Ratings projections are off by 100%. Weekly Cumes will grow if we manage our resources well.
The danger ahead is lower Loyalty to public radio across all platforms. Winning as much of someone’s combined terrestrial radio and Internet radio listening as possible is essential to keeping listeners in the donor base. This listening can be won if we choose to compete for it.