Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Are On-Line Listeners Even More "Elite?"

Among the comments AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt made to the NPR board is that NPR has attracted an audience that was "predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite."

Elite is such an interesting word to use to describe public radio listeners, especially in the context of diversifying the audience.

What make them elite?

Certainly not being white. What about being liberal?

NPR refutes the claim that the audience skews liberal, showing a relatively even distribution of political orientation among its listeners. What about age?

It turns out that the median age of the NPR listener is 50, just 5 years older than the national average. Does being slightly older make one elite? Probably not.

What about education level? Does being well-educated make one elite?

NPR Podcast users are much younger than public radio users (33 vs 50), yet are more likely to have a college degree (83% vs. 68%).

If elitism and education go together, then public radio's on-line audience is shaping up to be more elite than its radio audience.

Maybe it's money that makes public radio listeners elite. The median household income in the U.S. is $53,600. For public radio users its $90,000 per year. For NPR Podcast users its $76,000. 33 years old and making $76,000 per year. Imagine how much money they will be making when they are 50.

If elitism and income go together, then public radio's on-line audience is shaping up to be more elite than its radio audience.

All of this runs counter to the rhetoric in public radio that on-line services are the answer to diversifying the audience. If anything, the current trend is for on-line to attract a younger, more educated, and wealthier version of the current audience.

NPR hasn't released data on the ethnicity of on-line listeners, it might not have that data, but that doesn't really matter. Even if the skin color of on-line listeners is more diverse, it doesn't mean those listeners will be less elite.

If the goal to diversify public radio by making it less elite, then the public radio's on-line efforts might be hurting rather than helping the cause.

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Anonymous Brad Deltan said...

An "elite" audience is one that knows it is "correct" in any discussion or argument, because they are well-informed by NPR!

Nice circle of life there, eh? :)

5:05 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

Interesting idea Brad. By getting more listeners more people become elite until you reach a critical mass and wipe out elitism all together.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Brad Deltan said...

Heh. I assume you realize I was being thoroughly snarky. My comment was about as genuine as Schardt's was.

Anytime anyone accuses someone or something of being "elite", it means the accuser simply doesn't like something about the accused and they can't come up with a valid reason why. It's like "political correctness", a meaningless phrase that can be skewed for use to attack anyone and anything for any reason...and since it's meaningless there is no rational way to defend yourself against it.

That's important, because it means the only way you CAN defend yourself is to make an equally meaningless and irrational attack BACK at the original attack.

So as a public radio elitist, I think Sue Schardt is a bitter welfare queen who doesn't believe that working hard gets you ahead in this great country of ours.

See how this works? It's such fun!

6:43 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

No worries Brad, I recognized the snark and just snarkplied (new word) in response. The exchange inspired a new posting which should go up in a day or two.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Brad Deltan said...

"Snarkplied"?!? GENIUS!!!!! :) I am totally stealing that one for any future dialogue across the series of tubes!!!

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Melissa Skidmore Photography said...

Great article Brad it is an interesting and informative site. Which listening on public radio on line which gives more demand.

12:23 PM  

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