Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Public Radio 2018

It’s been more than a decade since some media futurists began predicting the demise of public radio in its current form.  While there are ongoing shifts in media usage among public radio listeners, those changes have been more gradual than dramatic. 

Doomsday hasn’t arrived and, as long public radio can avoid severe self-inflicted wounds, doomsday won’t arrive.  

Over the next few postings, RadioSutton will outline what we think the next five years will look like for public radio and why.

Many of the observations might seem self-evident but we believe that they provide a framework for discussing how all of public radio can be strengthened by the very forces that others believe threaten the industry.
 Additional thoughts on each topic will appear in subsequent postings.  

In 2018:
  • Public radio stations will still be, by far, the most significant source of listening to public radio content.
  • The largest cause of any station audience erosion will come from within the public radio industry, not from outside competitors. 
  • Public radio audiences will not be any younger or more diverse.
  • Most public radio stations will be losing money on their digital efforts.  
  • Network programming heard over the radio will still be the most significant source of income for stations and networks alike.
  • Local programming on most news stations will still be losing money and require subsidization to break even.
  • NPR will be raising money directly from listeners and doing it with the belief that is beneficial to its member stations.