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Re: The "Forgotten" Demographic
For the last decade or so, most public radio operations have subscribed
to Arbitron. Initially this was funded by Corporation for Public
Broadcasting grants; it's possible the stations are largely on their own
to pay for the service now. The rationale behind the grants was the
recognition that public radio was going to have to find a way to survive
with a minimum of federal funding. Having hour-by-hour ratings would
help stations pinpoint which programming was bringing in and holding an
audience of potential donors. The numbers are also useful, of course,
to the sales force (which is never called that in public
broadcasting--it's usually something like "corporate relations").
In the July issue of Airplay, Maine Public Radio's program guide, MPR
President Robert H. Gardiner writes about core listeners and fringe
listeners and mentions "we continue to use your letters, messages and
opinion forms to supplement Arbitron audience data to improve our
service to you."
In the July/August issue of Of Note, WFCR's program guide, station GM
Martin Miller cites a lot of figures from the Fall '99 Arbitrons. He
calls people 35 and older "public radio's 'natural' audience" and claims
#1 ranking in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties in that demo for
just about everything except middays.