Arbitron analyzes ratings trends by pubradio format

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Public Radio Today 2009, Arbitron’s analysis of public radio listening patterns and demographics, digs into Fall 2008 diary and Portable People Meter ratings and sifts out details about the performance of the eight different public radio formats. Driven in large part by interest in the 2008 presidential elections, news/talk stations increased their weekly share of all public radio listening to 48 percent, a 10 percent increase from Fall 2006, the period covered in Arbitron’s last report on public radio. Led by the emergence of KUSC in Los Angeles and WETA in Washington, D.C., as the only all-classical stations in their markets, the classical music format boosted its average quarter hour share of pubradio listening to 13.7 percent. The weekly cume of 5 million listeners for classical music stations is a 15 percent increase from 2006. The news/music format, which encompasses stations that broadcast a variety of musical genres, and news/jazz also boosted their AQH share of pubradio listening. Quarter-hour listening for all other formats covered by the study–news/classical, jazz, Triple A and variety music–were down, although Arbitron reports some interesting demographic shifts for those stations. The jazz format, for example, gained ground with 18-24 year olds, while Triple A added aging baby boomers. The percentage of 55-64 year-olds listening to public radio’s Triple A/contemporary music mix stations climbed from 10 percent in Fall 2006 to nearly 18 percent in Fall 2008.

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