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Core and Fringe:
A Matter of Choice

One of the most commonly asked questions among programmers is,

How do we turn fringe listeners into core listeners?

The answer is simple:

Become the station they choose most often when they turn on their radios.

The tune-in, or "occasion," is the basis of all radio listening, and it results from the choices you and your listeners make.  The tune-in is the point at which public service begins.  It happens when your programming is more compelling than any other station's.  And it happens at the listener's convenience.

What do tune-ins have to do with core and fringe?  Listeners don't just happen; individuals choose to listen, or not.   When they choose your station at least once in a week, they enter your fringe.  They enter your core when they choose your station's programming more than any other's.

Their choice is made when they turn on their radios.  And what they hear is your choice.

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The above graph shows the extreme behavioral difference between public radio's core and fringe listeners.  Half of all core listeners tune in to public radio ten or more times each week.  But half of all fringe listeners tune in only once or twice per week.

Occasions turn fringe listeners into core listeners.

It's the listener's choice.  And your programming decisions directly affect this choice.  For instance, you can choose to serve the same listener across the week, or you can choose to serve some listeners only on the weekend.

The following graph suggests the ability of these two programming options to move people into your core and fringe.

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Two-thirds (67%) of all core listeners tune into their public radio station five or more days each week.  Compare that to the two-thirds of fringe listeners (62%) who listen only one or two days per week.

In sum, choice is what this core and fringe thing is all about.  You choose the programming; people choose the station.  The more appropriate and compelling your choices, the more frequently they listen.

And that's how to turn fringe into core.

– David Giovannoni
UDIENCE 98 Core Team

Audience Research Analysis
Copyright ARA and CPB.  All rights reserved.
Revised: September 01, 2000 12:38 PM.