NPR study oversimplifies barriers to audience growth, Sutton says

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NPR’s latest audience study provides good insights for promotion, marketing and multi-platform service strategies, but its recommendation that NPR adopt a less formal presentation style “is an over-simplification that public radio cannot afford to accept,” writes John Sutton, Maryland-based public radio marketing consultant, on his blog. Many programming changes over the past decade have moved public radio to a more conversational style that’s accessible to a broader audience–from host changes at Morning Edition, launch of Public Radio International’s The Takeaway, to the reinvention of economics reporting by This American Life and Planet Money, he notes. “Yet the latest research once again shows that public radio’s elite and highbrow sound remains a barrier to growth. Changing hosts and presentation style hasn’t changed the perception. Public radio’s audience has grown despite the perception among non-listeners that it is elite and highbrow. That doesn’t add up, unless the objections to public radio’s style are not the true barrier to listening.”

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