Why Is NPR So Successful?

It’s probably a bit of all of these…


NPR is thriving, revealing its highest ratings, both broadcast and digital.

As it grows, it proves the lie that commercial radio tells every day: Talent doesn’t matter. Listeners don’t want in-depth news. They won’t sit and listen to stories longer than 7 seconds. Shut up and play the music.

The truth is, NPR’s ratings grew throughout the election cycle of 2016. That’s understandable.

As Trump dominated cable and network news, NPR offered a counterpoint. And, I believe that is still part of their success.

But all the others are too.

Talent does matter.

Context and conversations and story-telling matter.

Refusing to dumb down, refusing to set their hair on fire in order to get attention, matters.

Refusing to scream and bully and berate matters.

How many commercial stations today offer programming worth paying for?

If those that own and run commercial stations would stop believing they already have all the answers, they might learn a better way.

A more sustainable way, as over-commercialization threatens every broadcaster.

Most radio execs are threatened by truly talented people.

Talent is expensive. It’s less controllable. It’s less accepting of mediocrity and BS.

And, in the end, which is not that far away these days, only talent can keep broadcasting alive.

NPR understands that. NPR understands how digital choice enhances their value.

And NPR may just be the last one standing because of it.