Thursday, May 28, 2020


One of the most important takeaways from the PRPD/Jacobs Media Strategies’ most recent Covid-19 survey of public radio listeners is that working from home may become the “new normal.” 

Many survey respondents say they want to keep working from home after the virus recedes.

The results of the survey were announced on Tuesday (5/26) during a Zoom-inar hosted by Fred Jacobs and PRPD CEO and Executive Director Abby Goldstein.

Jacobs and PRPD have been tracking changes in lifestyle and media usage during the ongoing disruption. The survey was conducted May 12th -14th, 2020. The earlier survey was conducted March 31st through April 2nd

Jacobs also did companion surveys of commercial station and Christian music station listeners.

The results are notable because the participants from all three types of stations are core listeners. Together they provide a “snapshot” of behavior and attitudes during the evolving situation from three perspectives.

The most recent Covid-19 survey was conducted with 15,345 listeners from 47 public radio stations. 

Around half of the stations have a news/talk format. 

Ten of the stations have a Classical music format and seven have an AAA format. 

Listeners from three Jazz music stations were also included.

Fred Jacobs said during the Zoom-inar that public radio respondents show remarkable loyalty to NPR and their local public radio station. The respondents gave public radio high marks for its service during the pandemic. Listeners appear to trust public radio more than any other information source.

Sixty-two percent of respondents in Survey #2 said they already work from home, want to work from home or their employers have told them they will be working from home once the pandemic is less of an issue. 

Thirty-eight percent said they prefer to work outside the home.

The percentage of listeners that know someone who has tested positive for the virus has roughly doubled in the five weeks between the two surveys. 

According to Jacobs, one in four public radio respondents said they know someone who has the virus.

Public radio respondents were more likely to say they work from home. 

The respondents in Jacobs' commercial radio and Christian music radio station surveys had a higher percentage of people saying they work for locations outside of the home. 

There were more retirees in the public radio sample.

Respondents to the survey from the three types of stations have different political views. 

Only 5% of public radio respondents identified themselves as Republicans. 

Nine percent of respondents from Christian music stations identified themselves as Democrats.

Among public radio respondents, one in three said they are frequently listening to music to escape coverage of Covid-19. 

Forty-three percent said they were occasionally using music to escape.

Public radio respondents most often said they listened to Classical or AAA music more since the onset of Covid-19. 

Note that fewer of the respondents said they now listen to Sirius/XM satellite radio compared to before the pandemic.

About half of the public radio respondents said they feel a stronger connection to their local public radio station since the virus outbreak began.

More than half of the public radio respondents said they would definitely support fundraising activities by their local stations during the pandemic.


Six of ten public radio respondents said they feel their local public radio stations should maintain normal fundraising during the crisis.

When asked which news and information sources they trust the most, public radio respondents said NPR News, their local public radio station or messages from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH).

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