How to reach a broader audience

Fewer young people are listening to the radio.
Date Published
08/19/2016

When it comes to attracting and engaging a new audience, many nonprofit broadcast stations have a difficult time broadening their reach. However, when a station relies on donations from listeners, there can never be too many people becoming invested in the station’s programming. Chances are, if you run a nonprofit broadcast, you’ve weighed the options and tried to figure out ways that you can get more people to tune in, without having to worry about changing things up so much that you could potentially isolate your current listener base. 

Social media lets you reach a whole new audience.Social media lets you reach a whole new audience.

Social media
It’s hard to believe that there are still broadcasters out there that  don’t utilize the free wonder that is social media. While advertisements on websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter cost money, simply running an active account is free. With the amount of traffic these social media sites get, just using the account strategically can up your traffic and draw more people to your station.

Facebook and Twitter even allow users to “go live,” so all of your followers can see what’s going on in the studio behind the scenes. This not only gives your station a transparent and reachable impression, but even your current listeners will enjoy the opportunity to get to know your broadcasters on a more personal level rather than just hearing what they have to say on-air. According to Facebook Newsroom, the website’s algorithm even bumps some live streams to the top of followers’ news feeds, so it’s sure to gain the attention of your fans rather than just getting lost as people scroll.

According to Radio: I Love It, having an active social media presence is especially important for local stations. Approximately a third of your listeners will also be looking to Facebook for updates about the station and possibly even looking to your page as a source of news and content regarding your area. Radio: I Love It also discussed the benefits of social media for individual broadcasters and deejays and how it allows the individuals to build a relationship with their listeners outside of their broadcast.

“The average public radio listener is 54.”

Reaching a younger audience
According to the Washington Post, the average NPR listener is 54, up from 45 in 1995. Nieman Lab talked to Michelle Srbinovich, general manager of WDET, a public radio station based in Detroit, about the station’s efforts to reach a younger audience.

“We’ve been targeting 25-to-54 and we’ve succeeded in bringing a new audience to public radio, both in terms of race and age, and people who are not always public radio listeners,” Srbinovich said. 

WDET has achieved this by focusing on broadcasting more as a community than it has in the past. For example, the station holds events to engage listeners in person, rather than just in their cars. WDET also focuses on content relevant to the area. Its programming discusses local happenings and fosters a sense of community in broadcast and at station events by featuring local names and artists.

Srbinovich also addressed the station’s fears of alienating its older, established donors – the primary source of money – by changing up the programming. However, she said that she was willing to take that risk, because of the chance that those listeners will still appreciate with WDET is doing.

“If you look at who are the public radio listeners, why they were attracted to public radio in the first place,” she told Nieman Lab. “It’s because public radio was doing something different.”

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