Who is the NPR Audience?

NPR Profile 2009: Insights into the Public Radio Audience
NPR Audience Insight and Research Department

This link provides a brief demographic overview of the NPR listening audience. "The public radio audience is set apart by its high degree of educational and professional attainment."

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Quote Page

Quotes on history of public broadcasting and its funding.

Commentary or Blog Post

We cannot ignore our debt-ridden fiscal times, or the intense ongoing debate about what government should do and what it can afford to do.

Eliminating the $3.3 million that NPR gets directly from federal sources would reduce the 2011 deficit by about 0.0002%. If NPR’s entire $166 million budget came from the federal government, cutting it all would reduce the 2011 deficit by 0.01%.

Clearly the NPR executives, particularly Ron Schiller, show poor and, at times, despicable judgment. Do any of the revelations from the raw video ameliorate that?

This page provides a brief but concise history of public broadcasting in the United States.

Normally, I would vehemently disagree with anyone trying to portray National Public Radio as a partisan liberal institution.

Conn Carroll suggests that the idea of providing "high-quality informational, educational, and entertainment-oriented television and radio programming" is a "mission [that] became obsolete long ago."

The video sting artiste publishes the latest work from his shop - a covertly taped interview with then-NPR Foundation senior VP for development Ron Schiller and current senior director of institutional giving Betsy Liley.

This post covers the controversy over Vivian Schiller's (NPR's CEO) remarks on Juan Williams. Memmott's post includes the transcript of Schiller's email which explains the rationale behind Williams' dismissal from NPR.

In commenting on the firing of Juan Williams, Rory Cooper wonders what his crime was. Cooper then describes the taxpayer role in NPR and explains why it conflicts with NPR's allegedly liberal reporting bias.

It is National Public Radio's credibility that has been seriously undermined!

Juan Williams once again got himself into trouble with NPR for comments he made at his other job, at Fox News. And NPR's reaction has unleashed an unprecedented firestorm of criticism directed not at Williams – but at NPR.

Given the fact that recent polling data shows Americans overestimate, but support, public funding for broadcasting, Josh Stearns suggests that public media should not be a victim to the budgetary ax.

According to Ken McIntyre, "[t]he rationale for taxpayers to subsidize the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio is outdated.

Trying to conclusively pin down the direction of NPR's bias misses the point. It is irrelevant which way public broadcasting 'tilts.' What matters is that it tilts at all.

I disagree with critics who say the public television system is unworkable and our programming tedious. Many of us have been around public television a long time and we’ve seen how great it can be.

The top ten reasons to cut off the taxpayer dollars flowing to National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System.

The bill is a stunt, since chances are negligible that this will pass the Senate. If the Republican Party was serious about getting public radio off the dole, it would have done something when it controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

Steve Coll subsequently goes on to describe the role of the federal government in public media, discussing whether or not its presence is beneficial.

The time has come to make a firm break with 'public media' notions but to simultaneously embrace 'non-commercial media' as a viable and important part of our modern media marketplace.

Chart or Graph

During major news events people turn to NPR for the latest developments and in-depth reporting. New listeners (who stay long after the crisis is over) have pushed NPR's dramatic audience growth over the last decade.

A history of appropriations to the CPB is presented in Figure 1.

This chart details four different funding methods for public media in Europe.

This chart compares public funding levels for media in leading democratic nations around the world.

At around $420 million in federal funds per year, the United States has one of the lowest-funded public media systems in the developed world.

About eight-in-ten Americans (82%) say they see at least some bias in news coverage – 52% say they see a lot and 30% say they see some.

This chart shows the age, median household income and education levels of NPR's audience by platform. The median NPR consumer is college-educated, over thirty years old, and makes more than $76,000 a year.

Compared to the general U.S. population, NPR consumers are over 2.5 times more likely to possess a Bachelors degree and 4 times more likely to have obtained a graduate degree.

NPR listeners are more active in public affairs; almost three-quarters of them report having voted in an election, compared to less than half of the general U.S. population.

NPR member stations bring local flavor, relevance, and regional perspective to NPR's programs with reporters and hosts who are deeply familiar with the issues, events and people they are covering.

About 93 percent of the U.S. population is within the listening area of one or more of the 900 plus stations that carry NPR programming.

NPR's revenue comes primarily from fees paid by our member stations, contributions from corporate sponsors, institutional foundation grants, gifts from major donors, and fees paid by users of The Public Radio Satellite System.

The vast majority (75% on average) of NPR's expenses are devoted to producing and presenting news, technical support for radio programs and journalists, distribution of programs to stations and digital media services.

Programming accounts for the largest allocation of our resources. Management & General expenses command only a small share of PBS resources. The [above] ... is a breakout of PBS's FY 2009 expenses by category.

Stations receive support from several sources - listener contributions, corporate sponsorship, in-kind and direct support from universities.

This chart demonstrates the diverse organizational structures of local public radio stations and the prevalence of grants from CPB.

This chart demonstrates the diverse organizational structures of local public television stations and the prevalence of grants from CPB.

Analysis Report White Paper

In this paper we estimate ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) scores for major media outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News’ Special Report, and all three network television news shows.

The following essay summarizes the themes discussed in three recent publications about public broadcasting in the United States. All three texts suggest public broadcasting's problems are caused by limitations in the way the system is funded and organized.

The Pew Research Center's Fall 2010 report on a survey of the American public's attitudes toward the media and their media consumption. The survey contextualizes public broadcasting's, and particularly NPR's, place within American media.

Moreover, the power to subsidize art, scholarship, and broadcasting cannot be found within the powers enumerated and delegated to the federal government under the Constitution.

"[This] article begins with an overview of the European legislative framework."

A time-line of events relevant to history of American public broadcasting.

A new FAIR study of NPR’s guestlist shows the radio service relies on the same elite and influential sources that dominate mainstream commercial news, and falls short of reflecting the diversity of the American public.

Public television in the United States is built upon a mission of 'universal access' to broadcasting services.

This piece provides a good overview of public media's history, structure, and funding.

An independent audit of the Public Broadcasting Service and its Subsidiaries, conducted by BOD USA.

Although U.S. public broadcasting has accomplished much in the 40 years since its founding, today there is a growing sense that we can and must do better.

This report begins the process of documenting the cutbacks and presenting a possible policy framework for the future.


A "State of Affairs" interview with a variety of experts on the history, funding, and politically charged nature of public broadcasting.

An examination of bias on public radio conducted by NPR's media analysis program, On the Media.

An examination of bias on public radio conducted by NPR's media analysis program, On the Media.

Should NPR receive federal funding? On today's Planet Money, we try to look at the question through the cold, hard lens of economics.

In a time of reckless deficit spending, should government money for public broadcasting, however small, get the ax? Reason.com editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie says yes.

In the Fall of 2010, Fox and NPR contributor Juan Williams was unexpectedly fired from NPR. This interview describes the firing scenario and Williams' response to it.

The video, which is largely the raw video and audio of the entire conversation with NPR Foundation's President Ron Schiller, does contain one brief section in which the audio is redacted in order to ensure the safety of an NPR overseas correspondent.

In 1969, Fred Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. His goal was to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to significant proposed cuts by President Nixon.

A national survey undertaken by the bipartisan polling firms of Hart Research and American Viewpoint indicates overwhelming public opposition (69% to 27%) to proposals to eliminate government funding of public broadcasting

Tom Rosenstiel, Director of Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, gives the first keynote address at The Future of Journalism.

As the title implies, this footage offers the incident behind Juan Williams' dismissal from NPR. According to NPR authorities, Williams' statement about Muslims in airports was an example of the bigoted behavior their organization finds unacceptable.

Primary Document

The summary from Public Television: A Program for Action, a report commissioned by the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1956. The report played a key role in the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

A foundational precursor to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the Communications Act of 1934 sought to "provide for the regulation of interstate and foreign communication by wire or radio, and for other purposes."

This document outlines the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget, presenting the allocation of fiscal year 2011 appropriation.

With this law, signed by President Kennedy on May 1, 1962, Congress gave the first major federal aid to public broadcasting.

In this testimony, David Boaz "argue[s] that Americans should not be taxed to fund a national broadcast network and that Congress should therefore terminate the funding for CPB."

A 2011 bill that would prohibit Federal funding of National Public Radio and the use of Federal funds to acquire radio content.

The President's remarks in the East Room at the White House just prior to signing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.

Ronald Reagan admitted that "[p]ublic broadcasting has an important role to play in assuring that a wide variety of information and entertainment choices are made available to American viewers and listeners," ... but funding must be realistic.

On May 26, NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin responded to FAIR's recent study, 'How Public is Public Radio?' What follows is Dvorkin's column, followed by a response from FAIR's Steve Rendall.

Let us suppose, therefore, that the government is entirely at one with the people, and never thinks of exerting any power of coercion unless in agreement with what it conceives to be their voice.

A summary of the Public Broadcasting Service's financial position, 2007-2010.

According to this statement by President Jimmy Carter, public broadcasting is essential to the growth and education of American citizens.

This paper will explore some of the assumptions and contradictions around government funding in support of public broadcasting specifically with regard to the roles and relationships among governments, broadcasters and the audiences.

This page offers an overview of the funding story behind NPR and our Member stations.

In this testimony, Sheldon Richman asserts that "[w]hat is misleadingly called 'public broadcasting' is actually coercive, tax-funded broadcasting.

In this statement, President Gerald Ford ponders the fine line between a free press and government funding.

As the title implies, this document contains several remarks by President Ford on public broadcasting financing.

On February 15, 2007, Congress passed the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007, which provides funding for federal programs through September 30, 2007 (P.L. 110-5).

These memos and other documents from the Nixon White House cover a period of peak conflict between the President's staff and public broadcasting.

Signed in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson, this law established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

This act was written by Jefferson in 1779 and passed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1786.

To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, 'by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only.' Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers.

In 1972, H.R. 13918, a bill which sought "to provide increased financing for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting" was brought before President Richard Nixon.

This link provides a brief demographic overview of the NPR listening audience. "The public radio audience is set apart by its high degree of educational and professional attainment."




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