Substantial growth in audience figures attributed to “first rate journalism”, much improved user platforms and high quality storytelling.

NPR has reported a dramatic ratings increase, with a total of 36.6 million weekly listeners across its various stations nationwide, including a 46% rise in its afternoon news listenership in comparison to 19% for commercial outlets.

In a press release the radio public broadcaster highlighted that growth was experienced across all platforms, including its digital and mobile platforms as well as the “increasingly competitive” podcast sector. According to the release, NPR has been the leading publisher of US podcasts on Podtrac for six months, with 63million downloads in September alone whilst its NPR One mobile app has seen its user base grow by 124%.

Such growth in the digital sector emphasises the success of NPR’s transition into a public service media organisation and by doing so, its continued relevance across the spectrum of its listeners – particularly youth audiences.

Yet, public media requires constant content and story-telling innovation to maintain a competitive audience share in the digital age, something NPR has recognised by expanding and formalising its Story Lab initiative.

Launched as an experiment last June, the initiative aims to cross-pollinate story and programme ideas on different platforms by combining production, news and tech teams from across the organisation as well as engaging content makers from outside the NPR. According to Nieman Lab, the Lab will allow individuals to pitch story ideas “outside of the standard news cycle” to a group of innovators that represent the breadth of the organisation.

Innovations like this and NPR’s fact-checking tool will help to ensure the organisation’s growth whilst also maintaining its public service principles.

Speaking about NPR’s ratings, CEO Jarl Mohn said: “While some of our audience growth is due to this unusual election cycle, the audience we retain is a tribute to the exceptional reporting of NPR and Member station journalists”

“These increases confirm that there is a real appetite for factual reporting, and people are turning to NPR as their source for credible news”.

Header image: National Public Radio Headquarters in Washington DC. Credits: Ted Eytan/Creative Commons