Public radio is facing an existential crisis, reports Wall Street Journal, in a story about the future of D.C-based NPR.
The WSJ story, in part, added:
“Some of the biggest radio stars of a generation are exiting the scene while public-radio executives attempt to stem the loss of younger listeners on traditional radio. At the same time, the business model of NPR—the institution at the center of the public-radio universe—is under threat: It relies primarily on funding from hundreds of local radio stations, but it faces rising competition from small and nimble podcasting companies using aggressive commercial strategies to create Netflix-style on-demand content.
“All this has amplified tensions between veteran radio executives who continue to cling to popular broadcast shows like “Car Talk” and those who believe podcasting, with its innovative storytelling and younger audiences, is the future. At NPR itself, a top executive recently issued guidelines to staff barring on-air promotion of its much-praised new app NPR One. Encouraging listeners to tune in via the app could alienate the local public-radio stations that pay NPR for shows.
“By the end of the decade, NPR projects that younger listeners under age 44 will make up only around 30% of the overall audience for its member stations, compared with about 60% in 1985. Currently more than 80% of podcast listeners are under age 55, according to recent data released by Edison Research and Triton Digital.
“These shifts in listening habits promise to continue. Auto makers are working to install voice technology in new cars that would allow drivers to simply say the name of a show they’d like to hear, making it less crucial to stay tuned to a particular radio station. Within seven years, 57% of all cars will be sold with built-in internet, controllable by smartphone, up from 32% in 2015, said Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for car-market researcher IHS Automotive.”