Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Jarl Mohn, NPR’s CEO got a lot of attention around the 2016 election when he said that some NPR News/Talk stations were replacing heritage commercial stations as the top News/Talk source in their markets. 

Now, almost two years after the election, how many NPR News/Talk stations are number one?

According to analysis by Spark News of Nielsen Audio PPM data from August 2018 for 27 NPR News/Talk stations in the Top 30 radio markets, 37% of the NPR station are number one in average-quarter-hour (AQH) share, or estimated weekly listeners, or both.  

The methodology is simple: We used the top performing NPR News/Talk station in each market and compared it to the leading commercial News, Talk and News/Talk stations in the market. 

 Then we observed where the NPR News/Talk station ranked in AQH and weekly cumulative listeners.

(Scroll down to see the complete list of the 27 NPR News/Talk stations and their markets.)   

There are 6 NPR News/Talk Stations that are number one in both AQH share and weekly listeners: 

WLRN, Miami
KNOW, Minneapolis-St. Paul
KPBS, San Diego
KOPB, Portland
WFAE, Charlotte
KNPR, Las Vegas

There are 4 NPR News/Talk Stations that are number one in AQH share but not in weekly listeners:

KQED, San Francisco
WBUR, Boston
KUOW, Seattle-Tacoma
KCFR, Denver-Boulder

There is one NPR News/Talk Station that is number one in estimated weekly listeners but not in AQH share:

WYPR, Baltimore


1 comment:

  1. Ken, I always enjoy reading your posts but your comparisons of the top performing NPR news stations across the country ignores the obvious elephant in the room...the percentage of college graduates in those markets. It's long been known that NPR stations do best in markets with a large number of educated listeners. If you look at the stations on this list that have a 4.0 share or better, they are virtually all in the top 20 markets in terms of the most college graduates. (The exception is KXJZ in Sacramento which is really punching above the education level of their market.) In contrast, the 3 stations on this list that have less than a 2.0 share are all in markets ranked 61 or lower for college graduates.

    My station (Michigan Radio-WUOM) helps prove this point. Our home market of Ann Arbor is one of the most educated in the country, with 73% of the market having a bachelors degree or higher. Our station has a 9.9 share here. Contrast that with the Detroit market next door, that has only 27% college graduates, and where we have a 1.7 share. Now there are other extenuating circumstances, including the fact that there are 2 NPR news stations serving Detroit and that our station's signal does not cover the entire market. The point is that the demographics of a market play a huge factor in how well an NPR station performs there.