At 34, I am at least a decade older than many of those on my team, and nothing makes this more evident than having news radio blast out of my car speakers instead of the trendy new song.
NPR has been a staple in my life since college, when I was trying to keep up with what was going on in the world but was turned off by sensationalist media. It is my go-to place for informative and entertaining stories that often make me feel enriched and connected. Through the years, NPR has evolved alongside my media habits, becoming accessible through apps and podcasts, and keeping true to its brand by featuring underwriting ads that align with its content and are naturally embedded within its programming.
In the era of “fake news,” NPR has maintained trust among their listenership (an estimated 85 million monthly listeners in the US), delivering smart, informative, and entertaining news that covers topics ranging from business to music to science. While some critics might label it as liberal leaning, NPR covers themes and conducts interviews from all sides of the story. They do what news is supposed to do: fully inform, so their listeners can develop their own opinions.
Some in the media tout this “audio” resurgence as the new growth platform behind social media due to its intimate nature and ease of consumption. NPR remains at the forefront of this trend, being accessible through a variety of channels while becoming a leader in the growing US podcast market. According to Activate Tech & Media Outlook 2018, this podcast market is projected to almost double to 112 million people with 15 billion hours of content by 2021.
Even though NPR is supported by the federal government for the most part, it is sustained by contributions from both their avid listeners and underwriting sponsors. While this is not a new way to place ads, it does follow one of the best practices currently in the industry: These are all done as brief mentions aligned with the programming style and voices, with very few placed per program, ensuring the listeners pay attention and are not put off by them. This, in effect, distributes the trust and goodwill felt by the NPR ¬listener to these advertisers, which is what all ads nowadays strive to do.
To me, media that is meaningful offers trustworthy and insightful content that enriches my life, is easily accessible throughout the day (whether in the car, on my cell phone, or at home through my Alexa), and does not bombard me with unnecessary or intrusive ads.