Executive Summary: PRPD's Core Values of Local Programming (2001)

Copyright© 2002 by Public Radio Program Directors Inc. - Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
  • We found that many public radio listeners, especially those who are core to an NPR station, want a comprehensive range of news and information programming from their station-including local as well as national and international.
  • We found a widening opportunity for public radio stations to serve listeners who are highly critical of local, commercial radio and TV news and talk shows they describe as shallow, sensational, loud and manipulative.
  • Public radio listeners want local programming on their station to reflect the same Core Values as network programming. Most importantly, they want information in depth so they can think about large issues.
  • Core public radio news listeners draw a clear line between local information they can get from other sources (such as local newspaper/wire service headlines) and coverage that gives them knowledge, understanding and makes them think.
  • The word "local" is not particularly useful for producers and reporters seeking to understand what core listeners want in coverage about their communities. They reject local news that fails to present information in a context that allows them to "connect the dots", dismissing it as "merely local" or "parochial" (defined by the dictionary as "of narrow range, merely local, provincial, restricted.")
  • Public radio listeners, especially those who use an NPR station as their primary choice view events in their communities as part of an interconnected web of causal relationships. They put a high value on in-depth local news programming that presents issues and ideas in context, asking and answering questions such as:

    Has it happened before here?
    Has it happened elsewhere?
    Is it part of a pattern?
    What is the cause?
    What is the impact?

    In their view, no event is isolated on any level-local, national or international. The most highly valued local news presentations integrates their experience as citizens of their communities, their nation and the world.
  • There is no advantage in local origination if the presentation is below network standards.