Are On-Line Listeners Even More "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.