357 Resources

10% of Public Radio Listeners Are Givers

Throughout public radio, it is common to hear the claim that ‘only 10% of listeners financially support the station.’

Generally, this is not an accurate belief. This myth probably began as a misinterpretation of David Giovannoni’s so-called "Cheap 90" research study of givers in 1985. This pioneering study is still well worth reading.

Pledges & Program Popularity

A common activity that can mislead stations is the misuse of "pledge tracking." Pledge tracking, in this case, means counting the number of pledges and dollars received during on-air fund raising campaigns, and attempting to use these numbers to gauge the popularity or performance of individual programs.

Listener Letters, E-mails, and Phone Calls

A myth exists concerning the interpretation of listener letters, e-mails, or phone calls. Some stations assume that each communication from a listener automatically represents a larger percentage of people with similar opinions who did not contact the station - as if ten e-mails complaining about a program actually represent hundreds or thousands of other listeners with similar opinions. While other listeners may or may not agree with the thoughts expressed in these communications, statistically, they do not represent anything beyond the opinions of a single listener.

Basic Guiding Principles

Both programming and development staff must be on the same page to successfully plan and execute an on air campaign. Here are some fundamental points to discuss to ensure that there is a mutual understanding and agreement on the overriding principles of successful fund raising.

Specificity & Proximity


It may seem obvious, but stations occasionally forget. It’s crucial to ensure that all promotions include information on the time of broadcast of the program being promoted! Generic promos without a specific broadcast time are of little benefit to listeners.   


The basic rule-of-thumb for effective on-air promotions is:  

The closer a program or programming element is promoted to its time of broadcast, the more effective the promotion is likely to be in increasing listening!