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navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) A Matter of Choice

The Rotten Core

We know that core listeners are much more likely to financially support public radio than are fringe listeners.

And as the Stairway to Given shows, we know why:

  • they rely on their public station;

  • it is personally important in their lives;

  • and they believe that contributing listeners support it.

However, not all core listeners are givers. What's with this "Rotten Core"?

Although a public station is the favorite of all core listeners, those in the Rotten Core do not rely on it as heavily as do those in the Giving Core.

Comparing these core listeners on their steps up the Stairway to Given proves this.

  • The Rotten Core tunes in less frequently, listens four and one-half hours less each week, and is significantly less loyal than the Giving Core.

  • While both are likely to say that public radio is important in their lives, those in the Rotten Core are much less likely to have a "strong" Sense of Community with public radio.

  • The Rotten Core is also less likely to possess the proper combined funding beliefs that are associated with giving to public radio.


Stairway to Given

(For most-listened-to Public Radio Station)

Giving Core

Rotten Core Fringe


Percent of Listeners 23 25 52
Percent of Listening 43 36 21
Percent of Givers 68 0 32
Percent of Giving 74 0 26
Steps 1&2
Reliance on Public Radio
Percent in Core 100 100 0
Loyalty 77 69 14
Years Listening to Station 12 9 9
Percent with "Strong" Reliance on Public Radio 97 89 7
Percent who listen both Weekdays and Weekends 80 65 30
Occasions (per week) 14 10 4
TSL (HR:MN per week) 17:25 12:56 3:34
Step 3
Personal Importance
Percent who agree Public Radio Station is Personally Important 98 93 83
Percent with "Strong" Sense of Community 80 59 43
Step 4
Funding Beliefs
Percent who have Beliefs Associated with Giving to Public Radio 41 34 34
Step 5
Ability to Afford
Average Annual
Household Income
$80,000 $58,000 $62,000

The lesson here is clear:

Being a person's favorite radio station is a wonderful gauge of service and a key indicator of one's propensity to support public radio. But it is not sufficient to create a giver.

The importance of the station's programming in listeners' lives, and their beliefs about how the station is financed, remain key steps that must be taken up the stairway to giving.

– David Giovannoni
– Carla Henry
– Jay Youngclaus
UDIENCE 98 Core Team

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