Grantee Feature: A New Model for Measuring Radio Audiences
Graciela Orozco (San Francisco State University) believes in the power of community radio to reach a wide audience. For stations serving rural or marginalized populations, how can we better measure their reach and impact?
Public radio is mission-driven. Based in California, Radio Bilingüe is the only national distributor of Spanish-language programming in public radio. For WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, Kentucky, the mission is to document, disseminate, and revitalize the traditions and culture of Appalachia via "real people radio."
In a 2007 SSRC-funded study, Dr. Orozco examined the significant role that Radio Bilingüe played in informing and mobilizing political action around the time of the May 1st, 2006, immigrant rights marches. Her study helped the station understand its role in these mobilizations and suggested new understandings of the forms of public engagement available to local stations. At the request of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), Dr. Orozco brought this approach to the very different context of another local public radio station: Whitesburg's WMMT-FM.
Dr. Orozco shares findings from her work with WMMT and lessons from her earlier project:
“Both my Radio Bilingüe and Kentucky projects are efforts to learn more about who the audiences are for stations located in rural areas. This is important because Arbitron data [the standard audience-measurement service in the radio industry] is very limited in these contexts. It’s not cost effective for them to go into these areas. They focus on larger markets, so you're left with a lot of radio stations providing a very important service to their community without any way of showing what they’re doing.”