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Public Radio Audience Is Aging

old-ladyThe non-com audience has long been dominated by baby boomers, those who came of age during the years of the Vietnam War, hippies and underground , and particularly by highly educated boomers, the oldest of which turn 64 on Jan. 1, 2010.

The United States Census Bureau defines the demographic baby boom as 1946 to 1964, during which time approximately 76 million babies were born in the country.

In “The Aging Public ,” Dr. George Bailey of Walrus Research used AudiGraphics software to analyze spring Arbitron data from 51 FM public radio stations in the top 50 markets “” those that generate 75 percent of pubcast radio listening.

He wanted to answer four questions:

* “¢ At what rate is the public radio audience aging?

* “¢ Does aging differ among formats?

* “¢ How do the dynamics of listening vary by format?

* “¢ What are the implications for future growth of listening and fundraising?

Walrus Research chose a 10 year period “” spring 1999 to spring 2009 “” to calculate the rate of aging for each format.

The best news concerns audience for news formats.

Stations that have dedicated their format to NPR news attract an audience with a median age of 52, almost exactly in the center of the baby boom generation. Ten years ago the same set of NPR stations had a median age of 47. As in the second chart, as the median age for NPR news stations went up from 46 to 52 years, their employed audience declined from 77 to 70 percent from 1997 to 2009.

via Audience Is Aging, by Leslie Stimson.

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