Drop in younger listeners makes dent in NPR news audience

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NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Dru Sefton)

NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Dru Sefton, Current)

Listeners to NPR stations are aging faster than the overall radio audience and listening less to the network’s most popular radio programs, according to new data shared by the network.

Though NPR is seeing some listening gains on digital platforms, particularly with podcasts, its broadcast audience has dropped. Average–quarter-hour (AQH) listening during morning drive time has dropped 11 percent in the past five years, and afternoon drive audience has declined 6 percent. The only age bracket that has increased listening to NPR stations is the 65-plus audience.

NPR’s oldest listeners are “kind of saving us at the moment,” said Jeff Hansen, p.d.  at KUOW in Seattle, at a meeting of news and talk station programmers Sept. 30 at the Public Radio Program Directors conference in Pittsburgh. But relying on an older audience to sustain NPR stations is only a “temporary solution,” he added. “The question then becomes, what can we do as stations now to bolster that radio listening?”

Public radio programmers and others at the meeting suggested a variety of options, including attention to broadcast, management, marketing and digital strategies.

Ultimately, Hansen said, “the radio audience is still funding most of what we do.”

‘It’s a different world’

In addition to the overall AQH drop during morning drive, Morning Edition has seen a 20 percent drop among listeners under 55 since 2010, according t0 Gwynne Villota, a senior research manager at NPR, who shared the Nielsen data at the PRPD meeting.

“This is an important metric,” said Villota. “. . . It is tied to a lot of revenue at [NPR’s] level and at [the station] level.”

NPR-audience-AQH-stations

Source for charts: Nielsen via NPR

Morning Edition saw about a 6 percent increase in AQH among 65-plus listeners since 2010. All Things Considered also saw slight AQH gains among listeners ages 12-24 and 55-64 and a roughly 10 percent gain for 65-plus listeners. But AQH listening for the show dropped by roughly 24 percent among 45- to 54-year-olds.

Source: Nielsen via NPR

Source: Nielsen via NPR

The gap between older and younger listeners of NPR stations is widening. Stations are losing listeners 12–44 years of age. NPR projects that by 2020, its stations’ audience of 44-year-olds and younger will be around 30 percent, half that demographic’s audience share in 1985.

Among all radio stations, AQH for listeners 54 years old and younger dropped from spring 2012 to spring 2015. News and talk stations, both commercial and noncommercial, saw AQH decline in all age groups — most dramatically among 45- to 54-year-olds, for which AQH dropped 24 percent. NPR stations saw a 20 percent decline in AQH in that age bracket.

NPR-audience-AQH-change

Source: Nielsen via NPR

Younger people “may well still be aging into listening to us someplace, and that’s what NPR One and lots of other initiatives are about,” Villota said. “But I don’t think we can count on them aging into radio listening any longer. Lifestyle-wise, there are so many things competing for our attention. . . . It’s a different world.”

On the upside, the 65+ audience increased listening to NPR stations by 18 percent and NPR newsmagazines by 22 percent.

Villota noted that some of the demographic changes can be attributed to “a fundamental shift in our country’s demographics,” she said. “With the baby boomers moving out of that bracket and into older ones, there is a little bit of a vacuum that Gen X is simply not big enough to fill. But it’s still an alarming trend, because we do need to build these younger listeners so that we have listeners in the future.”

What about digital?

Meanwhile, audience on digital platforms has been growing for NPR and stations. NPR saw a 75 percent increase in podcast downloads from January 2014 to January 2015. Station websites saw a 61 percent increase in audience from 2013 to 2014, and NPR.org grew its audience nearly 35 percent.

But Villota acknowledged that tools are lacking to track digital listening and “at this point, we don’t think that digital listening is making up for the lost broadcast listening,” she said.

NPR stations’ streaming audience grew 39 percent from June 2013 to June 2015, reaching 34,816 active sessions, according to Triton Digital data shared during the session. But Pandora’s audience that month was 50 times that, and Spotify’s audience was nearly 25 times larger.

While podcasts are seeing growth, they still represent a small portion of listeners’ audio habits, according to an Edison Research survey presented at PRPD. A sample of people 18 years old and up were surveyed about their audio listening habits over a 24-hour period. The average listener heard about four hours of audio, listening to radio 57 percent of the time and podcasts just 2 percent of the time.

The 17 percent surveyed who called themselves frequent public radio listeners listened to more radio but fewer podcasts. Podcasts accounted for 4 percent of total audio consumption among millennials.

Addressing the decline

Station program directors and others at the PRPD meeting suggested possible approaches to growing audience.

“The biggest thing you need to do with your broadcast service is fix it,” said Steve Olson, president and c.e.o. of Audience Research Analysis, who said he had studied audience trends of several news/talk stations.

News stations often drive away core and fringe audience during middays, in early evening, and weekend afternoons and evenings, Olson said. “[Stations] can gain anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of your AQH if you address those spots that aren’t working,” he said.

“The second half of the equation . . . There’s gotta be somebody at your station who is ultimately responsible for your air sound so that nothing goes on the air, that you have control over, that doesn’t sound great,” Olson said.

While some stations have sought to produce more local news, some meeting attendees warned that the outcome must be high-quality. More “bad local news” won’t fix declining audiences, they said.

Public radio stations need to improve editing and should train people to “have a more forceful sense of what they want to say yes and no to,” said Ben Calhoun, director of programming and content at WBEZ in Chicago.

KPLU in Seattle is considering giving staff more time to create original radio programming, said Matt Martinez, director of content. Martinez is considering cutting back on episodes of the station’s weekend show Sound Effect.

Producers of the weekly show are “making lots of compromises,” Martinez said, airing “pieces that they would have rather killed, pieces that they thought should have gone through a couple of more edits, and it was not-so-great local radio.”

By cutting back on shows, Martinez said he believes Sound Effect could get “to the point where locally, we are producing great audio that is indistinguishable from national content.”

Participants also discussed whether public radio stations are providing the optimal mix of local and national content on digital platforms. Most station websites barely promote the station’s connection to NPR, said researcher John Sutton. “You can go to almost any station these days and scroll down the website and you will not find NPR on it, except in a tiny corner,” he said.

Yet core listeners are listening mainly to NPR programming. “No one’s moving the NPR part of their brand into the digital space,” Sutton said. “It’s not a hard thing to do.”

That prompted a response from Tim Eby, g.m. at St. Louis Public Radio, who said he was rethinking his station’s digital strategy. The station has focused more on local digital content to set itself apart from national and international competitors online, he said. But “the expectation from our audience on the broadcast channels is that magic of local and national, and if we take that away in the digital space, maybe we’re not delivering the kind of magic we should,” Eby said.

In a post on Medium Oct. 7, Eby also suggested that “national producers and CPB invest in a major research project on millennials to understand how the public radio news product can best reach and serve them in our increasingly fragmented media environment.”

Public radio stations also need to get better at developing talent, said consultant Graham Griffith.

In addition to hiring for potential — especially hiring “people who make you uncomfortable,” he said — public radio stations need to “keep as many of those people as possible by continuing to provide new challenges to them and make sure they’re constantly stimulated by the work environment, not just by the product they’re creating.”

Correction: This post has been revised to reflect the current production schedule of KPLU’s Sound Effect.

Questions, comments, tips? tyler@current.org or @tjfalk

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  • lothar

    Maybe because they keep changing to appeal to younger listeners. I’ve been listening to NPR since I was a pre-teen (I’m 40 now) and the reason I kept listening for so long is it was the only thing that continued on, unchanging for so long. NPR keeps trying to be all things to all people, trying to appeal to every micro fragment of the listening audience, that they’ve lost sight of what they once were. I look to NPR for the familiar, not radical change. Hasn’t the rest of the radio dial changed enough in the last 30 years? The rearranging of “Morning Edition,” alone, was enough to throw me into fits.

    • Adam Ragusea

      If your theory were correct, NPR would be gaining younger audiences while losing the olds. The precise opposite is happening, as you can see above.

      • Clete

        Not if the changes didn’t appeal to younger listeners. “Change” doesn’t inherently appeal to any demographic (except as a slogan, in which case it appeals to the politically naive).

      • lothar

        Well, is the question is to change NPR “News,” or to hold local stations to a higher standard as far as local content? The comment about NPR One was hilarious. I was one of the first users of that app. It’s about as easy to use as Apple Music, meaning not at all. I’m still not sure what it does. On my commute (and remember, I’m 39 so I’m in the declining demographic), NPR competes with SiriusXM. NPR’s decision NOT to compete with it’s member stations is harming it in that regard as since so many peoples’ SiriusXM experience is segregated from their AM/FM use, they don’t easily switch back and forth. Put Morning Edition and ATC on instead of what ever is on now. And back to NPR One and the NPR App….I’m still using third party apps to listen to my local stations’ streams because of inconsistent quality.

  • lothar

    And I’m still mad about the way Sabrina Farhi was dumped!

  • http://twitter.com/csymrl Casey Morell

    I’m a so-called millennial who works in public radio. This is a solvable problem, but it’s going to take a ton of effort and buy-in across the industry — not to mention time. I did a ton of research [available here: http://caseym.org/ma-project.pdf%5D on how to help address this problem, and I hope maybe some of it will come to fruition.

  • http://www.crux.com Ray of Enlightenment

    This is a content problem. National NPR news now mostly just emulates other corporate media crap. Management has become completely cowed by the Right-wing noise machine and threats to defund CPB, so Republican talking points now substitute for intelligent questioning and corporate relativism is increasingly replacing human values and the pursuit of actual truth. Don’t believe me? Do a count of Republican vs Democrat sound bites on the typical national NPR news show sometime.

    • Adam Ragusea

      You have no data to support any of the many dubious claims of fact in this comment.

      • http://www.crux.com Ray of Enlightenment

        I have ears, Adam.

        • Adam Ragusea

          Compelling stuff.

      • http://www.crux.com Ray of Enlightenment

        But if you want, after my next listen, I can break down the absolutely crap news writing over there when I find a good example. Stay tuned.

    • usa3

      NPR is no better than the propaganda pumping likes of MSNBC. Utter non sense, don’t have to prove anything, if you have ears to hear…I mean really hear

      • Adam Ragusea

        And you two are why public radio people die inside when they read the comments. One of you thinks it’s totally clear that NPR skews right, the other thinks it’s equally clear that NPR skews left, and you’re both convinced it wasn’t so back in the good ol’ days. You can’t be right. Meanwhile, if you’d actually read the article you’re commenting on, you’d see that the most likely explanation for this slight dip in listening is younger people moving toward podcasts and streaming — the same phenomenon that’s driving up the average age of all broadcast audiences.

        • LudicrousSextus

          And the current level of public education in this country certainly isn’t helping. With reports of ‘average college freshmen reading at 6th to 7th grade levels’, we probably have no shortage of high school grads who can’t spell NPR.

    • LudicrousSextus

      That’s mildly amusing. NPR is anything but ‘right wing’.

      • http://www.crux.com Ray of Enlightenment

        It less amusing that you apparently don’t know how to read. I said it was corporate, not right wing.

  • LudicrousSextus

    So, apparently even youngsters notice the level of bias in NPR coverage these days…

    • Adam Ragusea

      Again, no evidence of this.

      • PulSamsara

        other than the transcripts to most shows.

        • Adam Ragusea

          The transcripts to most shows suggest a causal link between bias (right? left?) and the dip in younger listeners? Amazing, please explain.

  • Sadyfansler

    NPR News

    • Adam Ragusea

      When was the last time your heard NPR use “man” to mean human? If it happens, I’m sure it’s just a slip. Everyone is on board with avoiding unnecessarily gendered language.

      Here are some thoughts from the Ombudsman about why NPR should name the shooters, which I agree with: http://www.npr.org/sections/ombudsman/2015/10/05/446054628/naming-the-shooter-why-npr-should-identify-the-suspect

      I’ve read the arguments about why reporters should favor “people of color” over “minorities,” they don’t strike me as particularly compelling. Indeed, POC collectively won’t be a minority in this country forever, but they are now. I’m also not wild about POC, since it’s semantically identical to “colored people,” and it focuses on physical attributes rather than shared ancestry/heritage/social status. But I’m a white guy and I recognize that my opinion doesn’t matter much on this one.

  • J Davis

    Hmmm. You think, maybe, they got tired of the drumbeat of National Palestinian Radio? I hear NPR news is considering using a catchphrase borrowed from 1010 WINS New York…”You give us 22 minutes, we’ll demonize Israel.”

    • Adam Ragusea

      Two things wrong with this.

      First, go to any NPR piece about Israel and read all the comments from the people who are convinced that NPR coverage is pro-Israel.

      http://www.npr.org/2015/07/15/423101381/interview-israeli-prime-minister-bejamin-netanyahu-on-iran-nuclear-deal

      Second, if NPR coverage were pro-Palestinian, that would probably help it with younger audiences. Younger Americans are less likely to support Israel.

      http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2014/0729/Americans-still-support-Israel-but-views-vary-by-age-and-race-poll-finds

      But as you should have read in the article that you’re commenting on, NPR is losing younger listeners and gaining older ones. So no part of your argument makes any sense.

      • J Davis

        Really, Adam? Put 100 knowledgeable people in a room and ask if NPR leans more toward Israel or the Palestinians. If the answer is less than 85% toward the Palestinians, I’ll buy you dinner for the next 50 years. Don’t try to snow me with something you know all too well.

        Want proof of the bias? Go to camera.org or the Honest Reporting website and search for NPR. Not opinion…all documentation from the network’s own airchecks and transcripts.

        Oh, one more thing….I am a retired 30-year broadcast journalist with more than 20 major awards. I played it straight all those years. I know bias when I see it. Do you?

        • Aaron Read

          Camera? Honest Reporting? Seriously? That’s your proof that NPR is biased? Two organizations that both freely admit their purpose is exclusively about advancing a pro-Israeli agenda in the media?

          I don’t claim to know enough about the Middle East to automatically recognize “bias” in reporting on it. But I’ve been in professional media long enough (almost 20 years now – check my LinkedIn if you are so inclined: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronread1) to know that whenever someone screams “bias”, they’re almost always advancing their own narrow agenda.

          Who are you, who’d you work for, and what awards did you win? Because I’m calling shenanigans on all of them until we know the specifics.

          • J Davis

            Oh, Aaron. Such bile. Such spin. And so typical that you refute outlets that provide facts. The outlets I mentioned don’t “freely admit” to advancing Israel. They freely admit to calling out ALL media bias…a.k.a. asking for nothing but basic fairness in reporting. But, as an engineer who spent no time in journalism, all you care to do is lash out at something you know nothing about. I suppose you want to get a pass on that. Not from me, you won’t.

            I don’t have to list my bona fides for you or anyone else. But you can certainly find them out yourself. Let’s see how you do playing investigative reporter. BTW…I didn’t play that role…I OWNED that role for 10 years. I’m on Linked In as well. I worked for CNN. And there are laws on the books in Missouri and Indiana thanks solely to my reporting. Have at it, my friend. And if you’re successful in your search, you can take your shenanigans and use them as a suppository.

          • Aaron Read

            If you’re on LinkedIn, cut the crap and post the link. There’s six results for people with the last name “Davis” and any experience at CNN. I’m reasonably confident that none of them are you, but even if one of them is, it’s impossible to confirm that it’s you with the information provided.

            Real reporters don’t hide their identity. That’s what activists pushing an agenda do.

          • J Davis

            Oh, Aaron. Ever more bile. And such laziness on your part. I mentioned some of my accomplishments in the previous reply. Only one of the CNN Davises can make that claim. But you clearly prefer being a mean girl as opposed to doing basic research.

            Here are a mere 10 of my awards in my family room. I hope you enjoy my amateur iPad photography. Then again, you’ll claim it’s not my picture and not my house. And I really don’t give a rat’s patoot what you think. I busted my cajones earning those and the others. Have a lovely weekend, sir.

          • J Davis

            Reply to A. Read’s edit…I don’t hide my identity…ever. I simply choose not to share it with the whole online world; only selectively. I have no ego that needs feeding. The only reason I mentioned it in the first place was because I was being accused of not knowing what I was talking about.

        • Adam Ragusea

          I have no idea how “100 knowledgeable people” would gauge NPR’s reporting, nor do I have any idea how you would gauge whether said people are “knowledgeable,” nor do I have any idea why we would allow truth to be arbitrated by focus group.

          I do know that I read this piece last night: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/10/talks-about-israelpalestine

          And here’s the latest from CAMERA: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=4&x_outlet=28&x_article=3148

          None of that, of course, is relevant to your assertion that NPR is losing younger listeners because of pro-Israel bias, real or perceived. There is no evidence to support that, and even some evidence to refute it.

          Your assertion, I think, says a lot more about you and your own biases. For you to project your own preoccupation with the Israel-Palestinian conflict on a completely unrelated story speaks to how overheated so many people are on this issue. I don’t think it’s possible to cover Israel-Palestine in a way that would be universally viewed as “straight.”

          • J Davis

            My goodness…how selective of you, Adam. Why did you choose that CAMERA link instead of this one http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=4&x_outlet=28&x_article=3140 from the day before? You know…the one sporting the headline “NPR Correspondent Emily Harris Humanizes Attackers, Ignores Victims.”

            You mention truth. That’s a concept foreign to NPR reporters and hosts when foaming at the mouth every time Israel defends itself. You also mentioned bias. I’ll use your logic and tell you you’re obviously biased in favor of knife-wielding terrorists and against innocent Jews. You like that? No? Then you stop peeing down my leg and telling me it’s raining and I’ll do the same.

          • Adam Ragusea

            I honestly have no idea what you’re saying here.

  • Realist

    Maybe younger audiences aren’t interested in in-depth coverage of Darfur?
    Of course, NPR (and PBS) cater to niche audiences but the panic over these numbers shows why they need Government money to stay afloat. Instead of worrying about what they DON’T have, they need to generate money from the affluent, well informed audience that they HAVE.
    NPR (and PBS) have great content and remarkable audiences in an uncluttered environment but they have never effectively made a case to advertisers as to why they need to be there. They depended on foundations and advertisers who WANTED to be a part of their programming for simpatico reasons and never showed other advertisers WHY they should be out in front of their audience.
    The biggest reason is that people who work for NPR didn’t get into radio to compete. And in business these days, EVERYONE needs to compete.

  • Scott Stuntz

    As a younger listener, I would say more and more of my listening time has been going to podcasts started by NPR alumni like Reply All and Mystery Show or NPR Podcasts like Plant Money or public media podcasts like 99 % Invisible. I think the best analysis I’ve heard on the challenges public radio is now facing is Current’s “The Pub” podcast.

    Personally, my over-the-air listening has been steadily declining. I’ll turn it on in the car, but if I have to time to seek out content it is most likely going to be a podcast, made by NPR or otherwise.

  • Sarah Sevedge

    I am a younger listener (27/F) and I have been listening to NPR and public radio my whole life. Garrison Keilior and few other local shows have a permanent place in my heart. Our local NPR affiliate runs on two stations one FM and one AM. I listen to it in the morning on commute, I listen on the way to the store, on the way everywhere. I realize I’m in the minority or so say the numbers. But I know that a lot of my friends who are young college educated people listen to NPR. I do listen to the podcasts too but those are my “doing stuff” listening – doing chores, etc. Because they are portable. Unlike my car radio.

    Could it be that because young people literally don’t have a stereo that they don’t listen to the radio except in the car? I have an old clunker of a stereo because I have a record collection but that’s the only reason. When you don’t have the technology to listen, you can’t.

  • Aaron Read

    One thing: John Sutton mentions that NPR branding is not present on member stations’ websites.

    First, NPR specifically forbids integrating NPR branding into a station’s own logos. It’s part of the Member Agreement, and they can get pretty snotty about it at times, too. Maybe NPR needs to loosen up a little if they want to change that.

    Second, why should stations brand themselves as NPR? That helps NPR at the expense of the station. It blurs an already blurred line where people are getting more and more disconnected from their local station and more and more connected to NPR central. The inevitable outcome of that is greater demand for direct fundraising to/by NPR and the functional death of all member stations.

    I would argue the opposite needs to occur: NPR needs to disappear as a branded entity. There should be no such thing as http://www.npr.org No on-air branding as anything being part of NPR. The entire product should be branded in a way that makes it appear, transparently, to be part of the local member station…and thus the support from the listener goes to the member station. That is the ONLY way it’s going to work so long as member stations are the primary source of NPR’s revenue.

    That said, I would *AGREE* 100% with the chief counter-argument to this concept, in that currently both the on-air and on-line presences of member stations are of such WILDLY divergent quality that for NPR to do as I suggest would be suicide. Accordingly, I would say member stations need to be prepared to give up a lot of control over what they do and hew more to an agreed standard. Concordantly, NPR needs to pour a lot more effort into helping stations live up to that standard, too. That means every member station website needs to have the same resources that npr.org has behind it. That means far greater involvement in training/editing/reporting by national-level reporters for local-level stories/stations. It means member station websites need to be based on a common platform around a limited selection of themes to encourage consistent look and feel. And it means that NPR needs to have a much stronger hand in eliminating local competition between overlapping stations. They need to cooperate, not compete, and if that means one station’s revenue suffers as a result then NPR needs to step in and supplement their revenue to make up the difference. Revenue sharing just like how the NFL does.

    This is but a small fraction of the problem/solution, of course; I could write a book on this topic just from what I know in my head…and what I know in my head isn’t even 10% of what I’d need to know to really speak intelligently on the subject and come up with a truly comprehensive solution. But simply putting NPR’s logo more on stations’ websites is a bandaid on a sucking chest wound. We need something far greater.

    Granted, I empathize that under the current deep-seated mistrust between member stations and NPR, I don’t see how NPR could possibly be willing to make enough and repeated gestured to earn the trust necessary to operate at this vast a scope. I only know that the onus is on NPR to do it because we’ll never herd enough cats among the member stations to do so. (plus given how NPR’s previous four or five CEO’s have acted towards member stations, I’d say the onus is on NPR to repair the relationship anyways)

  • Hard Little Machine

    I’m Dick Gordon, and this is the story

    (obscure, poor yet heroic black people doing stuff)

    • MarkJeffries

      That show went off years ago.

      Did Drudge link to this article?

      • Hard Little Machine

        WUNC

        • MarkJeffries

          Could you please write in complete sentences?

          • Hard Little Machine

            The radio station WUNC.

          • MarkJeffries

            What of it?

            And that show isn’t on the air anymore. Why are you bringing it up?

          • Hard Little Machine

            I want to watch you struggle to get the last word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000901418650 Larry Waldbillig

    First, NPR is going through the same pains as commercial broadcast radio. Audiences are getting older. And radio is a 120 year old medium. Radio can try and adapt to perceived (and mostly statistical) changes in listener tastes. But at the end of the day, it’s still radio. It’s not interactive (many radio talk programs don’t have call-in lines or are pre-recorded), it does not let you rewind or skip ahead. Breaking news comes in faster through social media apps than through the radio.

    Which leads to my second point; There’s very few NEW standard AM/FM radios being made today. Sure you might find some dusty old stock on the shelves at Walmart (some are actually CASSETTE Walkman type personal stereos. I am not making that up.) Most cars today have apps built in for Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and others. If you’re already paying for a subscription to any of these services, why on earth would you want to listen to broadcast radio which only runs the latest Justin Bieber, The Weeknd and Selena Gomez hits? Or 30-40 year old, overplayed, burnt to a crisp classic rock oldies many people, including myself have long stopped listening to out of sheer predictability? Or whatever passes for country music today? Or the so-called News/Talk stations that serve mostly as mouthpieces for right wing blowhards? To say nothing of whatever the local NPR affiliate is playing on their particular schedules?

    I can get my traffic updates faster through an app on my smartphone than it takes to sit and wait for “traffic and weather together” at whenever time the station’s schedule dictates.

    Broadcast radio is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It’s listeners aren’t getting any younger. You can’t expect to win younger audiences with blase programming on a technology older than their great-grandparents. It’s time to move forward.

  • Mario Hieb

    They should update their theme music…

  • IkeaCabinet

    I much prefer the BBC for radio. NPR sounds almost unprofessional by comparison.

    • moebius2249

      That’s how I feel when I compare the NPR’s website to the BBC’s

    • PulSamsara

      Can’t listen to BBC reporters lead every question. “Yes, but isn’t it true that… ? repeat with every question. Some would call it a regional language detail… others call it an affront to real journalism.

  • moebius2249

    I stopped listening during the whole ACA battle in the Congress. NPR has a liberal ideological bias that intrudes on the reporting on contentious issues.

    • MarkJeffries

      Is that why the far left calls NPR “Nice RePublican Radio” and complains about RIGHT WING BIAS? Once again, I say that if the wackos on both sides hate NPR so much, they must be doing something right.

  • BigBroKnows

    NPR is losing touch with the people. Not the diminishing older elites who
    can afford to contribute handsomely to keep the dream alive, but the people who
    can’t make sense of the world if the NPR narrative is their only source of
    news.

    If you haven’t explored other sources of programing there are many unfiltered
    sources available online. You have to work harder to get, connect the dots, and
    analyze information, but the clearer picture of world events you get, the sillier
    the narrative-driven palp at NPR sounds; what you’d expect from Sesame Street for
    Millennials.

  • Barbara Jacques

    I don’t know if 40 qualifies as a younger listener. Let’s pretend for a second it does. The stories I hear on NPR and PRI have started to drive me nuts in the past few years. Vocal fry and uptalk seem to come out of my radio more and more often and I just can’t take it seriously. I find myself flipping to BBC more often.

    • Aaron Read

      Hi Barbara. Fortunately or unfortunately, it doesn’t. I’m 39 myself and we don’t count as “Millennials”, which is the demographic NPR is concerned with in terms of this steep drop in listeners.

      As an audio engineer, I stand by my assertion that about 90% of this recent concern about vocal fry is misogyny and not operations.

      But the uptalk is a real phenomena. In the recent past I’ve worked extensively with traditional college students and it’s a generational thing. (obviously I’m painting with a very broad brush here, so YMMV but I certainly saw it myself) So you could say there’s more uptalk because there’s more airstaff within NPR central (and member stations) who’re younger and in the Millennial generation.

      Of course, that does beg the question of why, if there’s more Millennials working in public radio, aren’t there more Millennials listening? I don’t know the specific answer, but I imagine it’s because listener habits are influenced by a lot more than just the age of the newscaster. (shrug)

  • Rob Greenlee

    Radio and Digital Radio will never get younger listeners back. NPR will need to steadily run at trying to make local stations into on demand audio/video creators that better cater to local markets. The content will need to be different and original. Taking broadcast content and redistributing it as a podcast will not work over time. Original content on radio will come out of podcast productions not the other way around. Stations need to drive more listeners to their podcasts before they completely lose all the younger listeners.

  • PulSamsara

    I listened to NPR from 20 to 40 + years old… but lately I’m looking for intelligent alternatives that don’t apologetically savage my demographic with almost every story. I appreciate may things that NPR offers – but it’s becoming offensive and I won’t be lining up for my daily abuse any longer.

    Have a nice day.