WHYY finds interest in PBS Passport premium among radio audience as well

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Philadelphia’s WHYY has discovered that a public television perk can motivate its radio audience to pledge.

In December 2015, the station began promoting Passport, PBS’s members-only streaming service, on WHYY-FM. That was a month before Passport launched.

“We would tease Passport by saying that if you make a gift now, you’ll be the first to be able to use the service when we launch in early January,” Maureen Saraco, member experience manager, told Current. “Once we launched, we were able to talk about it in more detail and implement the benefit more fully into our messaging for the late-January FM drive.”

Station members needed to make an ongoing monthly contribution of $5 or an annual donation of $60 or more to access Passport. During the radio drive, 17,377 donors were eligible, and 28 percent activated Passport. That compares with 13,366 eligible donors from a March television pledge drive, of which 14 percent activated.

“We considered TV to be more transactional, with people pledging and getting DVDs,” Suzanne Fiske, on-air development manager, told PBS’s Development Services blog. “We thought people who come in during the radio drive were more our core audience.”

But Passport showed the station a broader core audience than expected for WHYY-TV. “It found the people who use both our services,” Fiske said.

Saraco added that the station is “definitely still planning on promoting Passport” during radio fund drives.

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