A Lesson From Public Radio

Posted on April 25, 2011


Ask 100 commercial radio listeners what their number one complaint about radio is and I guarantee 99 of them will answer, “too many commercials.” 

Of course we can’t give our product to listeners commercial free because we wouldn’t make any money right? Maybe not. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from public radio.

Let’s do the same exercise. Ask 100 non-commercial radio listeners what their number one complaint is and, while I can’t guarantee it because I haven’t seen much research from public radio, I’ll bet a majority will answer “the pledge drives.”

That’s essentially the same issue. Commercial stations run spots to make money. Non-commercial stations have pledge drives, which I personally find more intrusive than spots, to make money.

But San Francisco public station KQED is making a stream of their station available without the pledge drive interruptions. All you have to do is donate $45 to receive  a special stream sans interruptions during the pledge drive.


Every radio station should follow suit. Make a non-commercial stream available for people willing to pay a subscription fee. Just fill the commercial breaks with extra songs and content.

I imagine listeners who would be willing to pay the fee are the ones who change the station when spots come on, so they aren’t really of any value to the station’s advertisers. Instead the station could make some money from them directly.

Why not?

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