One of the more frequent questions we get in the Research department is how many people listen to NPR shows across the country and how that compares to other national radio shows.
We have new numbers to share for the first question, but little to use for the second.
We recently released the Fall 2009 broadcast ratings for NPR from Arbitron, which pulls together all the listeners who tune into their local NPR member station. On average, more than 27 million listeners tune into at least one NPR show such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered or the hourly NPR Newscasts. NPR produces or distributes at least 25 shows each week to its member stations and you can see the Fall 2009 audience ratings for the NPR produced shows on the table below.
Unlike Nielsen's TV ratings, which frequently provides audience ratings for all the top Network and Cable shows, there is no single-source equivalent for radio. This makes it difficult to compare how NPR's shows fares against those aired on commercial radio. The closest we have found is this listing on Talkers.com. Based on this list, NPR's flagship shows - Morning Edition and All Things Considered - both of which have a sizable national presence, reaching 13.3 and 12.4 million weekly listeners respectively, rank #3 and #4 behind commercial Talk hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Ben Robins is the Research Manager for NPR Programming