Sutton plays out the scenario of radio oblivion by 2020

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NPR President Vivian Schiller’s remarks at D8 yesterday don’t jibe with her reassurances that NPR “is not trying to do an end run around stations,” writes public radio marketing consultant and researcher John Sutton on his blog. If she truly believes that radio towers won’t exist in 10 years, then NPR’s long-term strategy must not include the audiences and revenues aggregated by local stations. “It can’t. Not if the towers are gone. So what replaces the $68 million NPR now gets in station revenues? It’s not all business support. That kind of money comes from listener contributions. With member stations out of the way, NPR has to be thinking about direct listener fundraising. There’s no other model.”

Sutton, a critic of NPR’s mobile strategy, adds: “It will be interesting to see how the NPR Board balances the interests of NPR’s member stations against a corporate vision that financially requires the near-extinction of those stations and the migration of their listeners to NPR platforms.”