Jacobs and Ramsey Unite For Public Radio Diversity Strategy


Public radio stations, despite decades of success in journalism and content creation, are facing challenges in diversifying their mostly Caucasian and older listener base. To address these issues, research and consulting firms Jacobs Media and Mark Ramsey Research have launched a new initiative designed to help public radio identify and engage a more diverse audience.

In July, organizations including the Station Resource Group, Greater Public, and the Public Radio Program Directors Association issued a Public Radio Playbook. The playbook emphasizes that a one-size-fits-all approach based on demographic factors like age, race, and ethnicity may not be effective. Instead, public radio should focus on psychographic factors—shared values and interests—to grow its audience.

Fred Jacobs, President of Jacobs Media, explained, “We speak with a wide variety of public radio stations constantly, and while they all talk about audience expansion and diversification, there’s too much guesswork without research to help guide their decisions. We have been able to unlock the mystery behind audience expansion through this innovative research and backed up by the findings and recommendations from the ‘Playbook,’ we are confident we will be able to identify the next adjacent audiences and develop approaches to grow audiences.”

Maine Public, which implemented findings from this research process in 2022, has reported success. Rob Holt, digital director of Maine Public, stated, “Working in partnership with Mark Ramsey Media and Jacobs Media, we performed an audience segmentation study. We can now clearly see our entire audience picture — who is in the audience, and who is not. We’re using this data when evaluating new and existing content creation — deliberately targeting one or more segments. Then we measure the success of those efforts and we have the data to help us better reach our new and existing audiences. This is incredibly useful and actionable data.”

Mark Ramsey added, “There’s power in understanding the surprising and unique needs, habits, and tastes of audiences new to public media whose interests and values align with those of today’s core public media audiences. Mapping the media habits and content preferences of potential new audiences to the tastes of today’s fans and our own commitment to public service creates an abundance of opportunities for public media.”


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