This Is MPR: Marketing Public Radio?
Last week, at an invite-only event in New York, public radio persona Ira Glass uttered some words that just might change everything we know about audio as an advertising channel. "Public radio is ready for capitalism," Glass said.
What? Isn't that exactly against the very nature of public radio? Exactly. But as we've been seeing with the recent advancements of podcasts as a channel, it might not be too far off. "My hope is that we can move away from a model of asking listeners for money and join the free market," said Glass.
The recent breakout success of Serial—and its sole advertiser, MailChimp—has shined a light on the medium's usefulness, and apparently generated a conversation that's going all the way to the upper echelons of public radio leadership.
NPR quotes Tom Webster, the vice president of strategy and marketing at Edison Research as saying "Public radio is in a unique position to deliver podcast audiences to sponsors. ... new research shows that amongst all monthly podcast listeners, 62 percent have listened to at least one public radio podcast in the last month. In addition, 46 percent of 25-44 year-old public radio podcast listeners consider public radio podcasts to be essential listening."
Of course, there's still the political and legal waters to be navigated before NPR proper ever becomes a fertile field for anything more than the current structure of underwriting, but it looks like the seeds are being sown here and now. With podcasts on the up and up, who's to say that NPR isn't next?