Wednesday, December 05, 2012
A public radio station carries Morning Edition. That broadcast includes local interstitial content – weather, traffic, community calendars, and the like – plus one or two short localized newscasts and several longer reports from the station’s news team. On the typical day, 20 minutes per hour is not from the network. On some days, 25 minutes per hour is local.
The future imagined for public radio by its industry leaders like this. The more NPR content listeners can get directly from NPR, the more likely they are to abandon their local station.
The premise is that they would do it today if they could. The premise is that listeners only tolerate current station offerings, with up to 25 minutes of local content per hour, because they currently don’t have adequate direct-from-NPR options.
The fundamental assumption in that argument is that listeners prefer NPR programming to local content. And for the most part, that’s true.
So what do the industry leaders propose as the only possible solution to protect stations from audience and revenue loss when listeners can get their NPR directly from NPR? Stations should increase the amount of less-preferable content that they offer.
The future imagined for public radio stations? Spend more money on less attractive programming that generates less audience and less revenue.
This is why none of the public radio's leaders have bothered model public radio's future economy. They have no clue how to make it work.
That's bad news for all of public radio.