While compiling today’s list of the Top 20 noncom stations ranked by weekly cumulative listeners I saw an unexpected trend: Many of the NPR News stations lost weekly listeners over the six months between March 2016 and September 2016. Nielsen Audio estimated weekly listener data shows 10 of 13 (77%) NPR News stations lost weekly listeners.
Some of the declines were more than “wobbles.” KPCC had an estimated 170,000 (21%) fewer weekly listeners in September compared with March. WBUR lost around 152,000 (27%), WBEZ lost 136,000 (22%) and KCRW lost 131,000 (19%). These four stations combined lost a total of 589,000 weekly listeners.
The losses appear to challenge the theory that NPR News stations tend to gain weekly listeners during political seasons. I will leave it to another time to examine why this may be happening, but this is a trend worth watching.
Not all NPR News stations lost listeners. WAMU’s estimated weekly listeners grew approximately 100,000 between March 2016 and September 2016. WAMU now has the most estimated weekly cumulative listeners at noncommercial stations measured by Nielsen Audio PPM. KQED and KNOW also added listeners during the same period.
Let’s look stations #1 - #10:
NPR News stations dominate the top twenty will 13 of the 20 stations. The list also includes 3 Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) stations, 2 Classical stations, 2 Jazz stations and 1 Triple A (KCRW was counted twice because of their dual format).
Jazz station WBGO had the biggest gain in weekly listeners, up over 70,000 (27%) when comparing March and September.
Influential CCM station WGTS lost around 114,000 (21%) of its weekly listeners during the same period.
Overall, 15 of the top 20 noncom stations lost estimated weekly listeners; 5 gained listeners.