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Election Driving Public Radio Listening

Listeners indicate public radio core values are still intact, says Jacobs Media’s Public Radio Techsurvey

The election is driving public radio listening.

That’s among the findings of the newly published 8th Annual Public Radio Techsurvey, from Jacobs Media Strategies and the Public Radio Program Directors Association.

Overall, a fifth of the respondents agreed with the notion that the presidential race has led to an increase in public radio listening, especially fans of the news/talk format as well as millennials.

This is a study of how public radio listeners use various media. It draws its data from 29,406 public radio listeners via surveys distributed by 69 public radio stations to their members.

One finding: Millennials represent a huge challenge for public radio, but also a major opportunity. The millennial demographic, they confirm, consists of “strong digital users” who are especially predisposed to on-demand content. “And they’re the most positive about public radio programming, strongly supporting public radio core values like learning.”

Another is that public radio listeners’ “core values” are intact — more than half of respondents support the public radio format because they viewed its programming as credible and objective, they learn something new, it has a deeper news perspective and it respects the listener’s intelligence.

The study reported that overall radio listening is up a tick; and that 18% of respondents said they’ve listened to more public radio in the past year with 7% indicating less listening.

More consumption is moving to digital; nearly one-fourth (24%) of public radio consumption came from digital platforms like streaming, podcasts and apps, up from last year’s level of 19%.

Other trends: Podcasting is robust; NPR One is showing growth; more listeners are finding their favorite public radio content in the digital space; most respondents are active in social media; and a rising number own a “connected car,” most of whom say they “love” or “like” their in-dash media system. Mobile shows no signs of slowing down. And in public radio, “sharing and recommendation” scores are exceptional, providing content creators with a big opportunity to expand their boundaries and attract new users.