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Public Radio Music Stations Reach 200 Million People; Triple A 61 Million

Public Media Company looked at the broadcast footprint, and it points to big opportunities…

By Paul Marszalek

In a new mapping exercise, consultancy Public Media Co. led an effort to determine the service footprint of terrestrial public radio signals delivering music content.

There’s good news: Public Radio Music stations, defined as those with at least 40% of their 18-hour schedule dedicated to music, reach 200 million people throughout the United States. This number does not include AM signals, digital sub-channels, or streaming efforts.

Triple A stations reach an amazing 61 million.

In publishing the number, Public Media Co. refers to the 200 million as population “served.” This wording might be a bit misleading. Using the word “reach” would be more acceptable than “serve” as the latter could be misinterpreted as actual listeners. Actually, the 200 million number for all music stations and the 61 million number used for Triple A simply means potential audience residing under the collective terrestrial radio signal patterns.

Nielsen ratings data for the top 50 radio markets as of September 2023 shows that the actual Triple A Public Radio Audience is about 2.2 million, and that  includes the 331,000 listeners of mixed format KCRW/Santa Monica.

While it’s clearly exciting to see the sheer size of the potential audience, the mapping project may have inadvertently pointed out the under-performance of many public radio stations.

There are just too many Public Triple A Radio stations that cannot crack a 1-share. Commercial outlet WXRT/Chicago currently draws 900,000 listeners weekly on its own.

There’s really no other way to put it: If a station isn’t occasionally threatening a 2-share, much less consistently breaking a 1-share, there is simply a mismatch between the product and the consumer.

Read more on the Public Media Co. post.

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