The annual The RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey on news staffing was released Monday and the results were basically flat. The survey showed the typical radio news operation had a full-time news staff of one, a number that has remained the same for decades. The typical radio news director supervises an average of 2.5 or median of 2 stations. Those numbers are identical to the past two years’ data. 84.1% of all multi-station local groups operate with a centralized newsroom. That’s down 1 from 2016’s 85.2%
Only about 7% of radio news directors oversee news for a station outside their own market. That’s up from 2016’s 5%, but the same as in 2015. More news directors and general managers reported that just one station or one station in the group does local news, but the average and median number of stations that a news director oversees remained at 2.5 and 2, respectively.
Most indicators of radio staffing remain close to unchanged from 2016. The one exception is major market news departments. The median – or typical – number didn’t change, but the averages increased slightly, indicating higher survey return rates from all-news radio stations, most of which are in major markets, than a year ago.
Local groups of 3 or more stations generally had a larger news staff, on average, than standalone stations or two-station combos. But all groups had a median staff size of 1. The percentage of stations that increased staff during the past year is almost 3 points less than in 2016 and follows 2015’s 2.5 point fall. The bigger the staff, the more likely the station increased staff
even more. Overall, the bigger the market, the more likely for a station to increase staff size; the smaller the market, the less likely the station cut news staff.
Non-commercial stations were twice as likely to increase staff as commercial stations, but also twice as likely to cut staff. Geographically, the Northeast led the way in both increases and cuts.
The RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2017 using a random sample of 3,542 radio stations. Valid responses came from 415 radio news directors and general managers representing 1,110 radio stations. See the entire study, including Television results, HERE.