Fix to pubradio’s loudness problem rolls out to stations

Sssshhh . . . the sound of public radio is about to get a little quieter. But if all goes according to a plan unveiled last month by the Public Radio Satellite Service, listeners won’t notice the change in audio levels for programs distributed to stations around the country.

Arbitron reports new benchmark for pubradio news/talk audience

Audiences for news and talk stations delivered more than half of public radio’s listening in 2012, according to Arbitron’s annual study on public radio audience trends. The average quarter-hour (AQH) share, an Arbitron term describing the percentage of public radio listeners who tune to a specific format, hit 51.7 percent for pubradio news and talk stations last year, an 2.7 percent increase from 2011 and a precedent for the growth of public radio’s most powerful format, according to Arbitron’s “Public Radio Today 2013.” The study, which looked at audience trends across all stations and formats in 2012, found that public radio’s total audience remained at 32 million, or 12 percent, of all radio listeners. The number of weekly listeners grew by 7.5 percent, or 1.2 million, to a total of 18 million. Triple-A stations contributed to the gains by boosting the format’s weekly cume to 3.4 million listeners, an increase of 8.7 percent.

A digital revolution for public radio fundraising

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?

Public radio (unofficially) asks CPB to serve as political firewall, May 2005

Public radio station representatives endorsed this resolution by voice vote during NPR’s annual Members Meeting of stations, May 3, 2005. The meeting lacked the quorum necessary to adopt a proposed official resolution. The proposal, offered by Tim Emmons, g.m. of Northern Public Radio in DeKalb, Ill., responded to recent news coverage about CPB activities promoting conservative programming on public TV. Whereas it is the statutory and historical role of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to serve as a firewall between partisan politics and public broadcasting; and

Whereas the Public Broadcasting Act specifically directs CPB to act “in ways that will most effectively assure the maximum freedom of the public telecommunications entities and systems from interference with, or control of, program content or other activities”; and

Whereas CPB has in the past respected the First Amendment rights of broadcasters and deferred to the professional judgments of journalists; and

Whereas the Public Broadcasting Act requires CPB to distribute program funds by grant rather than by contract specifically to limit CPB interference in the editorial decision-making process of public broadcasting program producers and stations; and

Whereas the Public Broadcasting Act requires CPB to create and annually update a plan for the development of public telecommunications services and consult with interested parties when so doing; and

Whereas CPB has recently dismissed its President and CEO under uncertain conditions; and

Whereas the CPB board recently appointed two ombudsmen without consulting with the public broadcasting system, raising legitimate concerns of an institutionalized process for potential interference in content, and

Whereas, such a process within a funding agency is fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of ombudsmen in reference to news organizations;

It is therefore resolved that:

CPB should follow statutory requirements and do nothing to diminish the firewall between the Federal funds appropriated by the Congress and the public broadcast programming it funds; and
CPB should follow statutory requirements and refrain from interfering in constitutionally protected content decisions; and
CPB should follow statutory requirements and, before making changes in funding priorities, should engage in a system-wide consultation about the priorities of public radio and defer to the reasonable and legitimate choices of broadcast professionals to build services of value within the local communities they serve.