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NPR Sees Big Drop in Broadcast

But digital listening and programming compensates

In an unusually frank posting, “NPR Radio Ratings Collapse as Pandemic Ends Listeners’ Commutes,” a writer for National Public Radio says, “Broadcast ratings for nearly all of NPR’s radio shows took a steep dive in major markets this spring.”

Author David Folkenflik continues, “… as the coronavirus pandemic kept many Americans from commuting to work and school. The network’s shows lost roughly a quarter of their audience between the second quarter of 2019 and the same months in 2020.”

[Read: Big Podcasters Generate Big Numbers]

Whether the trend might be reversed is unclear but Lori Kaplan, NPR’s senior director of audience insights, warned, “We’re experiencing a sea change. … We’re not going back to the same levels of listening that we’ve experienced in the past on broadcast.”

There was one ray of amelioration, stations in many markets, including Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Austin, Texas, saw rises in listenership.

As bad as the broadcast news was overall engagement is up. “Podcast downloads and the usage of NPR’s listening apps are up nearly a quarter, and there is a 76% increase in users of as more people access the network’s content from home.”

Read the whole thing here.