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To Succeed in Fundraising, Public Radio Needs New Research About Its Audiences

April 16, 2019

By Current As more news organizations build their business models around subscriptions and soliciting individual donations, the body of research that guides public radio fundraising is overdue for re-examination.

Solid audience research played a vital role in guiding public radio’s growth over decades. In the ’80s, research-focused programmers adopted the slogan “Think Audience” to guide their scheduling decisions. Organizations like the Radio Research Consortium and Public Radio Program Directors Association were founded to define and spread best practices in acting on audience research. With that disciplined focus, listener support has become public radio’s single-largest source of funding. By fall 2016, stations had built their total weekly audience to the record-setting level of 37.4 million listeners.