NPR ratings plummet as commuters work from home

NPR ratings plummet as commuters work from home
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Listenership for almost all of NPR's radio shows dropped considerably in major markets in recent months as commuters worked from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the nonprofit media organization reported.

Overall, NPR shows lost nearly one-quarter of their audience, on average, when compared to the same time period in 2019.

Lori Kaplan, the network's senior director of audience insights, told NPR the drop in audience was anticipated and something that was only expedited by the pandemic as more people who normally listen in their cars stay at home.


"We anticipated these changes," Kaplan said. "This kind of change was going to take place over the next decade. But the pandemic has shown us what our future is now."

"We're experiencing a sea change," Kaplan says. "We're not going back to the same levels of listening that we've experienced in the past on broadcast."

Not all NPR stations suffered ratings drops, however, with ten major affiliates seeing an increase in audience including those in Austin, Texas; Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

Kaplan, citing audience research she commissioned, says NPR's audience is "disproportionately made up of those who are able to work from home and who are interested in doing so even after the pandemic subsides," according the NPR report.

NPR will celebrate its 50th year on the air next April.