NPR's 'Morning Edition' Reaches More than 'Good Morning America' or 'Today'

More people listen to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" news program than watch NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America," reports The Washington Post in a news story about record audience figures released Tuesday from the public radio organization.

The Post notes that the 9 percent increase in audience for NPR's daily news programs from 2007 to 2008 was driven by interest in the presidential election and the decline of other radio news. But the gain, Paul Farhi reports, continues an eight-year trend:

While almost every news organization saw its audience spike during the political campaign last year, NPR's surge continues a trend that goes back to at least the fall of 2000, when the organization began aggregating audience data from hundreds of affiliated public stations across the country. NPR saw a big audience increase after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has added listeners since. Its audience has grown 47 percent since 2000, according to figures from Arbitron.

That, of course, is a far different scenario than that of the newspaper and television business, both of which have seen their own audiences erode.

However, NPR's revenue model -- a combination of foundation support, fees from member stations and corporate sponsorships -- has taken a beating from the recession, too. In December the organization said it would lay off 7 percent of its staff and cancel two weekday shows. (Both programs, "Day to Day" and "News & Notes," aired their final shows Friday.) The New York Times reported that corporate sponsorships had dropped to $33 million for 2008, much lower than the $47 million that was budgeted.

Today's Post story says more cuts will come this spring.

In a story published last week, Fast Company explored NPR's recent success, noting its audience growth, innovative approach to digital media and insightful explanatory journalism about the economic crisis:

In one of the great under-told media success stories of the past decade, NPR has emerged not as the bespectacled schoolmarm of our imagination but as a massive news machine poised for what Dick Meyer, editorial director for digital media, half-jokingly calls "world domination."

Today's generally positive news was tempered by Mark Jurkowitz of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, who says in the Post story that NPR has grown as a news source as other radio companies have cut their news staffs and newscasts in favor of cheaper programming.

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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