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Survey Says … Digital

RTDNA study notes incremental changes and more digital

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), formerly the Radio Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), has released final installment the results of their annual TV and radio broadcast industry survey, done with Hofstra University.

The survey focused on news efforts at stations, commercial and noncommercial. Not surprisingly, considering the economic unease affecting the industry, not a whole lot changed from last year’s survey.

The amount of news on stations stayed roughly the same though there seemed to be a noticeable decrease in new personnel at stations. The survey stated: “Although the change hasn’t been steady, radio news directors, over the years, have been overseeing more and more stations. Last year, 30.7% of news directors oversaw the news on more than three stations. This year, nearly half, 48.5%, do that. The average number is up from 3.0 to 3.3 locally and from 0.7 to 1.1 somewhere else.”

Also not surprisingly, most radio stations had a Web site. Interestingly, the smaller-market stations were more likely to put a local news feed on the site. The survey also noted that in comparison to their television news counterparts, radio stations were lagging in the use of social media to transmit news or promote their station brand.

Possibly the biggest surprise in the survey was that small- market stations seemed to make the greatest use of digital technology, everything from DAWs and digital acquisition to cell phones to MP3, in their news operations.

The survey found that digital technology use in radio news “has continued to edge up, with 62.6% of radio stations using digital audio recording and 54.2% using digital editing and mixing. Those numbers spiked a bit more when the radio stations were asked about ‘percentage of news material.’ Over 76% said their news was gathered digitally and 80.9% said it was mixed and edited digitally. Not surprisingly, 82.5% of radio stations in the survey said their news was played back or aired digitally.”

The RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey was conducted in late 2009 among all 1,770 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 4,000 radio stations. Respondents included about 200 radio news directors and general managers from 300 radio stations.