Are Public Radio’s Ratings For Real? by Fred Jacobs


NPR Headquarters in Washington, DC.

NPR Headquarters in Washington, DC.



By Fred Jacobs


Tuesday October 25, 2016


Last week, NPR did something very uncharacteristic – it bragged about its ratings. A press release, “NPR See Large Ratings Increase,” made the point that NPR’s (and by extension, public radio’s) ratings jumps go well beyond a hot election and a politically overheated climate.

President/CEO of NPR, Jarl Mohn, has been especially vocal about his network’s progress, noting that while the Trump/Clinton “battle of the century” has obviously been a catalyst for some of the growth, NPR’s new magazines have experienced increases well beyond what commercial news radio has enjoyed during the same period.

As he noted, “These increases confirm that there is a real appetite for factual reporting, and people are turning to NPR as their source for credible news.”

So the pundits will debate whether these gains will be transitory (as they often are for cable news channels during big news stories), ebbing and normalizing when the election fires diminish.  Or whether NPR specifically, and public radio globally, will experience an afterglow into 2017.

There are at least two reasons to believe these gains are not only real, but sustainable.  Apart from the improved Nielsen listenership, NPR is seeing sharp traffic increases on its digital media channels, spearheaded by the fact-checking initiative that went into effect for the Presidential and VP debates.


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