jacobs media

PRTS4 Results

In Jacobs Media’s fourth annual study of core public radio listeners across the United States, the hi-tech revolution continues. This audience profiles as highly focused on accessing information from a growing variety of sources. 

Partnered with the Public Radio Program Directors Association (PRPD), this new study explores the changing landscape of media usage and digital applications among public radio listeners that shows strong growth for the acquisition of smartphones and tablets, as well as considerably higher usage of audio and video streaming technologies.  While social media activity continues to trend higher in general, their use of Twitter as a platform has shown spectacular growth.  

Arthur Cohen, President of PRPD, comments, “The ability to see our listeners’ media usage in the context of the full range of radio audiences is critical to helping stations better target their resources in this ever-changing environment.”

According to Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs, “The data from PRTS4 continues to point to the public radio audience continuing to use new media and gadgets in the pursuit of informing themselves.  Station programmers and managers would do well to better understand the fast rate of adoption, and shape content offerings to best fit new platforms.”

Information please. Jacobs Media tech surveys among commercial radio listeners point to hearing “favorite songs” as the main motivation for listening to broadcast radio.  Among public radio audiences, it is all about feeding their desire for information.  Programs and hosts also play a significant role in driving AM/FM radio listening.

Top of the morning. While slightly more than half (53%) of these core public radio listeners start their day listening to the radio – especially at home – one-fifth say that checking email is a popular “first occasion” for media consumption.  Approximately one in ten reads a print newspaper or turns on the television to being their media days.

Members only. In PRTS4, 85% of respondents are “members” of the stations that sent them this survey.  Of this group, nearly half say they’ve had membership status for five years or less.  These newer members are likelier to be younger and fans of public radio Triple A-style formats.

Other highlights:

  • Net Promoter recommendation scores are spectacular for these public radio stakeholder stations, holding steady at 67 – consistent with NPS for the three previous PRTS studies.
  • While media consumption has increased in many dimensions, readership of daily newspapers – print and/or online – has fallen 10% since PRTS3.
  • More than half (52%) now own a smartphone.  Of these public radio consumers, more than nine in ten download apps.
  • Three in ten (30%) own a tablet, especially fans of public radio’s News and Triple A stations. Among those who don’t, nearly four in ten (37%) say they are very or somewhat likely to take the plunge in 2012.
  • While more than six in ten (63%) public radio listeners in PRTS4 have a profile on Facebook, nearly one-fifth (18%) now use Twitter – up 57% from the previous study.  It’s the 18-34 year-olds that are most apt to follow a public radio station, host, or show on Twitter. PRTS4 vs TS8

Jacobs Media will deliver a special presentation of PRTS4 at the Public Radio Program Directors Conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, September 13 at 4:00 pm. “Deconstructing the Digital Divide” will compare the findings from PRTS4 to Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey 8 conducted earlier this year among more than 57,300 commercial radio listeners.  A slide comparing weekly Internet “streamies” is to the right:

Click here to register for the conference and get more details.


Here's the infographic that summarizes the key findings from PRTS4 - click to enlarge:

PRTS4 Infographic