Behind The Curtain

Trivial Pursuit: NPR Listener Edition

When I was a kid, I loved playing Trivial Pursuit. Unfortunately, my siblings did not.

I was often left to myself, reading and memorizing the questions. When I did rope someone into a game, I was assured not just of winning but also causing frustration that guaranteed I would be playing by myself for another six months.

All the facts and pieces of knowledge I've acquired during my young life have served mainly to impress (or annoy) friends over a drink at a bar. Think Cliff Clavin on Cheers.

But that's not the case in NPR's Audience Insight and Research. As an intern here, I can indulge my fascination with seemingly random bits of trivia as they apply to NPR listeners. I can direct my curiosity toward investigating what they do, what they think, what they own.

And the best part? It's actually valuable information.

Every year, AIR publishes profiles answering nearly every question employees might have about NPR listeners. Do they do home remodeling jobs themselves, or hire someone else to do them? Where do they get their medical insurance? What are their preferred clothing stores?

Lately, it's been my job to check this data to make sure we're getting the numbers right. These figures help NPR attract the right sponsors to support programming and guide producers and reporters in their coverage of news and culture. Knowing our audience goes a long way in keeping listeners and users tuned in to NPR and engaged with their communities.

That said, not all of my questions lead to something useful, but they're fun to research any way. For example, how many NPR listeners own cats, drink gin, AND listened to 80s pop music in the last six months?

Answer: not many. You know who you are....

Jamie Helgren is an intern in Audience Insight & Research

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