Saturday, November 08, 2008

Now That You Give a...

Early indications are that interest in the election and the economy could translate into strong audience gains for public radio news stations. We shouldn't be surprised if gains among younger listeners are substantial.

The same thing happened after 9/11. We called it the "Now that you give a... darn" effect.

Many people knew about NPR and their local stations, but the news leading up to 9/11 didn't affect them enough to result in regular listening. Events changed that and they came to public radio in record numbers.

Unlike the cable news networks, public radio listeners stayed as war news became daily news. Some of that had to do with the nature of radio and cable usage. Most of it had to do with good programming and promotion around the news programs. The talk and entertainment programs provided additional value to listeners seeking news. Loyalty went up. News listeners became station listeners.

The same opportunity is before public radio today. Listeners who are in the audience for election and economic coverage can become loyal station listeners with strong programming choices, superior on-air execution, and smart cross promotion. We can't know for sure, but a surge in audience now could lead to a multi-year run of audience growth.

The window of opportunity to keep these listeners is probably small. That makes the next week a good week to take stock of your station's programming and promotion fundamentals. If it's broke, don't wait to fix it. The benefits of acting now could pay off for several years.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Rob said...

My small world has shown that pledge in the last week - success - the pay off that you describe I think

7:30 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

Rob, yes, Fall fund drives have been a good indicator of value. Most new givers, however, tend to already be station listeners, often for 3-5years. Sometimes news events improve fundraising among existing audiences but don't translate into audience growth. I think this cycle could be different than that, and could lead to some audience gains in the coming years. If only....

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Nathan said...

We saw a healthy number of new members, even if the dollar amount wasn't up to our hopes.

1:12 PM  

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