Thursday, July 24, 2008

Change Is Not New To Public Radio

Public radio has changed in significant ways over the past few decades. The funding mix is very different with listener-sensitive revenues playing a more important role than subsidies. For better and worse, NPR's relationship with stations isn't what is used to be. There are three major networks. Audience research plays a prominent role in how programming decisions are made.

Change is not new and lessons from the past could be very useful today. For example, there are strong similarities between many of today's Web 2.0 proponents and many of those advocating the use of audience research in the 1980s, including:

1. The ability to see change coming
2. The ability to visualize opportunities to grow public service and revenues through change
3. Low tolerance for slow adopters

While there's no way to know for sure if low tolerance further slowed the industry's ability to appropriately apply and benefit from good audience research, it certainly couldn't have helped.

The question facing the today's visionaries is this, can lessons from the past help you speed public radio's success in a Web 2.0 world or are you destined to make the same mistakes as those who preceded you?

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