Monday, August 22, 2016


Last week the Public Radio Program Directors (PRPD) announced details about the Content Conference September 19 – 22 in Phoenix.  To sum it up in a quick phrase: Are you ready for some research?

You can find more information about the Content Conference at [link]. PRPD has extended early bird registration to September 1. 
PRPD CEO Jody Evans
PRPD CEO Jody Evans has assembled an impressive menu of original research about the awareness and perception inside and outside the core audience, particularly by “Gen Y” a/k/a the “Millennial Generation.” The Gen Y demographic cohort is typically defined as folks born between the late 1980s through the early 2000s. Today Gen Y-ers are roughly between the ages of 16 and 32.

The Millennial Generation grew up consuming a different media world than the Boomer Generation. I recently amazed a 21 year-old friend when I told him it wasn’t so long ago when I had to stand up and walk to the TV set to change the channel. He asked me if we still sent smoke signals back then. (I still use them.)

In addition to the latest Nielsen Audio data and trends from the Radio Research Consortium [link] and Jacobs Media’s Public Radio Tech Survey #8, the Content Conference will feature exclusive new research from Coleman Insights [link]. The PRPD commissioned the Coleman study to learn more about the perceptions of public radio’s core listeners and less frequent listeners.

Coleman is a heavy hitter in this type of very specialized research. Coleman’s specialty is connecting content with data to reveas listener perceptions and the “aura” of a particular brand.  Coleman also provides granular analysis of listening patterns such as tune-in and tune-out patterns. The PRPD news release doesn’t say whom from Coleman will be presenting the Content Conference study but I bet it will be Warren Kurtzman. He who has done interesting research in the past about public radio.

Ira Glass is the keynote speaker at the PRCC. Another session I recommend is about AIR’s Localore: Finding America initiative [link], multi-platform storytelling done by independent producers in conjunction with public media organizations.


One of my favorite Content Conference presentations is the annual Jacobs Media Public Radio Tech Survey (PRTS), now in its eighth year. PRTS #8 surveyed listeners of 69 stations from markets of all sizes. Participants included WNYC, WBEZ, Vermont Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio. Jacobs uses online “opt-in” methodology, not a random sample. Most respondents are members of station email databases. Other responses were gathered via station websites and/or social networking pages.

Jacobs Media has released two preview charts. The first (on the left) shows the size of the Millennial Generation compared to other generations such as Boomers.  There is no doubt about it: The Millennial Generation is huge and will be a big factor for many years.

The second preview chart (below) is the 2016 Media Usage Pyramid, a very valuable overview of behavior and device usage.  PRTS #8 is broken into two groups: Boomers and Millennials. Fred Jacobs will present full results at the PRCC.


Jacobs Media does Tech Studies for other types of stations, examining similar usage patterns. Jacob’s recently released Tech Survey #12 for commercial broadcasters and has done Tech Surveys for Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) stations.

I decided to look at similarities and differences between these surveys. I have included the Media Usage Pyramids for commercial and CCM (Note: 2015 data) at the bottom of this post.

I’ll let Fred Jacobs give the analysis and commentary but I have three takeaways highlighted in yellow in the chart:

1.) Radio listening is still robust in all cohorts and demos.

2.) There is a special relationship between public radio and podcasts.

3.) Use of Satellite Radio by Millennials is way smaller than other cohorts.  This is certainly a troubling development for the folks at subscription-based Sirius/XM.

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