Marketing consultant John Sutton has been forecasting what public radio will look like in 2018, and his predictions, published on his blog RadioSutton since February, have been provocative. Sutton is among the pubradio analysts who believe that federal funding “will be sharply reduced or gone in five years.” He also believes that digital listening will fragment the audience enough that eventually NPR will have to raise money directly from listeners or the current public radio economic model will collapse. Below, he lays out a proposal for overhauling public radio fundraising and how it makes both dollars and sense. Imagine a future in which listeners donate 26 percent more money to public radio at half the cost. Imagine that NPR has nearly $60 million more to invest annually in world-class journalism and development of new programs.
Is this imaginative exercise making you uncomfortable?