Thursday, October 19, 2017


Some people may find it ironic that President Trump’s pledge to eliminate funding for public broadcasting is a gift that keeps on giving to public radio stations like WAMC in Albany.

The Albany Times Union reported [link] that WAMC reached its pledge drive goal of a million dollars in only 17 hours over less than two days. 

Though many stations have seen an increase in listener support since Trump was elected, few have used Trump as effectively for fundraising as Alan Chartock, President and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio.

Alan Chartock pitching on WAMC

We first reported on Chartock’s use of Trump as a fundraising foil in January, a couple of weeks before Trump was inaugurated [link]. At that time, Chartock said: 

"It was all Donald Trump. Ironically, the president is now our best fundraiser."

Though it is impossible to know what percentage of the October support that was directly motivated by anti-Trump sentiment, Chartock said many callers mentioned Trump when they made their pledge:

"You're talking about a guy who is taking health care away from children, who wants to lead us into World War III ... you're talking about a very dangerous guy, and our audience knows that."

"We're just trying to tell the truth," Chartock told the Times Union. "Listeners know that."


INTEGR8 Research, a company that specializes in new music discovery trends [link], has released the results of a survey of people between the ages of 15 and 39 asking about how and where they find new music. 

They found that FM radio is still the top choice, but, for the youngest listeners, on-demand services and YouTube have almost pulled ahead of radio.

The survey was conducted with 3,140 respondents who were recruited because they are listeners to commercial CHR, Rhythmic CHR, Urban, Alternative, or Country stations.

The chart on the left shows the results from all of the age 15 – 39 respondents. “A Local FM Radio Station” was the choice by around half of the respondents. 

New music on YouTube was the second choice followed by Spotify.

However, respondents who are teens (ages 15 – 19) tend to use on-demand services and YouTube almost as frequently as FM radio stations. The chart on the left shows that the younger the respondent, the more likely they are to use new music sources other than radio.


I decided to get a second opinion, so I reach out to Mike Henry from Paragon Research [link]. He wrote:

Mike Henry at the NONCOMMvention
Without diving specifically into the Integr8 study, [There are] surprisingly positive assessments on broadcast radio such as the Nielson Infinite Dial and the Jacobs Public Media Tech Survey. Here are my thoughts:

1. The role of broadcast radio in the music discovery ecosystem of Millennials and beyond has not changed since I first studied it in 2002 for the NAB.  What I found then is what we hear now:

• Younger listeners want to use radio as a primary new music filter to find the newest songs and bands they like most and will explore/follow/engage moving forward. 

• Younger listeners do not feel like radio stations are built for their utilitarian needs, so they use new music filters that do the trick for them.  Radio acts like it doesn’t need younger listeners, and younger listeners don’t need radio.  So it’s a hate-hate relationship. 

Mike Henry at WUOG
2. When radio does serve as a new music filter, as is the case with public radio Music Discovery stations, an audience finds it.  Ironically, mostly older listeners tune to these stations and make them viable.  In the few cases where public radio stations target younger listeners, such as the The Current and Radio Milwaukee, they actually do have substantial amounts of young listeners.  This proves my theory of “open ears” having no age limits.

3. Research shows that radio listening levels increase by age, and even many of the younger listeners who previously didn’t rely on radio “grow into radio.”

4. My earlier research showed that youngsters like radio for its ubiquitous and easy (free) use, and that if you build it FOR THEM, they will come.  With few exceptions, radio hasn’t yet given young listeners what they want. 


This study has very little to do with noncommercial Triple A listeners. Respondents were listeners to commercial radio music stations. Very few noncom stations air CHR, Rhythmic CHR, Urban, Alternative, or Country stations.

Noncommercial music stations are seeing similar trends with younger listeners, so the findings are relevant. But, the relationship between stations and listeners may be significantly different for most noncom stations. Research needs to be done to learn more.

In press releases about the study, INTEGR8 focuses more on the fact that the youngest listeners listen less to radio than even folks of millennial age.  But, even with teens, FM radio was still the top choice for music discovery.

The thing that bothers me the most about INTEGR8 Research is that data seems to be spun to generate new business rather than to inform. Here is their pitch at the end of their press releases:

INTEGR8 believes radio has a trump card to reclaim a greater dominance in music discovery. That trump card will be revealed in a webinar to be held Thursday, October 26th.

In other words, now that we’ve scared you with bad news, we will tell you about our proprietary solution: a magic trump card that will change the way the wind blows. Of course, you need to be a client before getting your trump card.

No comments:

Post a Comment