Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010: A Defining Year for Public Radio

What happens in 2010 will have a significant impact on what public radio looks like in 2019.

This year, more than any other, will define the future relationships among stations, program producers, networks, and the audience. This is the year where the actions of the networks, particularly NPR, will determine whether the majority of stations will thrive or languish in the new media marketplace. This is the year when CPB, through the Grow the Audience project, will set funding priorities that determine which markets and public radio entities will be targeted for growth and which ones will not.

If the events of 2009 were any indication of what’s to come in 2010, then public radio can expect a further fracturing of the industry between the current “haves” and “have-nots.” Here are two examples:

  • NPR’s current revenue strategy for the mobile web excludes stations. In fact, NPR is considering charging stations for the right to offer newsmagazine content on-demand. Put another way, NPR is eyeing station fees as a possible source of revenue for its own mobile strategy. You can read more about it in Current.

  • CPB’s Grow the Audience project, which on the surface looks like the “No Public Radio Child Left Behind” program, will out of necessity have to fund relatively few, high impact projects. There’s not enough money to create incentives to get everything done.
We’ll explore these and other industry-defining challenges in upcoming posts. In the meantime, stations not wishing to be left behind need to start thinking aggressively if they want to stay competitive on-line and in the public radio industry.

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