‘The Pub’ #39: Public radio’s two audiences, PBS news VP Marie Nelson, Auto-Tune on kids’ shows

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Nelson, Jacobs

Radio researcher and consultant Fred Jacobs noticed something as he conducted his latest Public Radio Techsurvey.

“What the data are telling us is that, to a great degree, public radio has two audiences,” Jacobs told me on The Pub.

“There are the traditional listeners who have been with the space for maybe decades, but then there’s this emerging audience that, really, is smaller — I mean it is younger, it is smaller — but they are fascinating.”

What the latest Jacobs Media research shows is that baby boomers and millennials are not only listening differently — the latter being much more inclined toward digital outlets — but also listening for different reasons.

On this week’s episode, Jacobs does the numbers. Also:

  • PBS VP for News and Public Affairs Marie Nelson reflects on her first year on the job, the future of independent film on public TV and the perpetual challenge of diversity.
  • I decry the pervasive Auto-Tune used by the producers of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the PBS show for preschoolers that is otherwise a worthy successor to Fred Rogers’ legacy.

I’m looking for your stories about negative audience feedback you’ve received — anything that sticks in your mind, I’d love to include in the show. Record yourself talking about what happened and how it made you feel, and be sure to quote from the feedback itself. Send that audio to adam@current.org along with a link to whatever content provoked the complaint, if it’s available.

Please subscribe to The Pub in iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and leave us a rating and a comment! That will help boost our search results and allow people to find the show more easily.

We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me at adam@current.org or @aragusea on Twitter; my supervising producer at Current, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or @currentpubmedia on Twitter.

If you’d like to offer a comment to be used in the program, please send on-mic tape (recorded in a studio, with a kit, a smartphone, anything) to adam@current.org either as an attachment or through Google Drive. Please keep it short!

Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

  • fnjacobs

    Adam, thanks for the opportunity to be a part of Current’s podcast.

    • Adam Ragusea

      thanks for dropping truth bombs!

  • Mark Pugner

    I agree, Fred Rogers didn’t need perfect pitch to sing, and neither do children. Every song doesn’t have to be pitch perfect to be great or beautiful. Keep on ranting for more natural voices to be heard!

    You need realize that download and streaming numbers are guesstimates and you don’t really know the actual number of listeners really. It is true that modern technology allows for more tracking, but they are still estimating and might be double counting. People like the on demand aspect of today’s modern technology. I don’t have to stop what I’m doing at a preordained time to listen to my favorite show, I can listen later when I choose. I might listen in to a favorite show live, when my schedule matches up on occasion. I might be counted twice if I happen to catch a part of a show live, and I download the show later.

    The reason young people are attracted to “learning new things” might just be that they are young and inexperienced, and haven’t experienced everything. Older people probably still enjoy new experiences and learning new things, but they have many more experiences that it is harder for older people to find things they haven’t done, or don’t know. Young people might not be that different from older people, it might be that they are simply at a different phase of life.

  • Joe Pitts

    Barbara Cierra-Newchannel3, Norfolk Virginia FYI