WBUR Achieves Largest National Audience in Station History

BOSTON, May 12, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WBUR, Boston's NPR® news station, has earned its highest-ever national ratings for its signature programs, Here & Now, On Point and Only A Game. At a time when audiences have more options than ever for where and how to consume news and information, all three programs achieved year-over-year growth in both average quarter-hour listening (AQH) and cume, the total number of listeners in a week.*

"We're thrilled to see that our dedication to exceptional journalism is resonating with listeners," said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz. "Every day, WBUR producers and hosts are helping to shape the national conversation and, I believe, helping to create a civil discourse about topics that truly matter and make a difference in people's lives."

National success is not WBUR's only calling card. As a local station, WBUR ranks as the fourth highest generator of listening to NPR programming overall, according to the most recent Fall 2014 ARA Audigraphics. That is, WBUR brings more listeners to NPR than all but three other stations, headquartered in significantly larger media markets: WNYC in New York City; WAMU in Washington, DC, and KQED in San Francisco.

Locally, WBUR has the largest radio newsroom in New England, and has continued to invest in local journalism, adding new digital producers and five new reporters over the last five years. Radio Boston, hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks, celebrates its 5th anniversary today as a daily local call-in newsmagazine. WBUR's Morning Edition with Bob Oakes regularly ranks among the top-rated programs in the market.

A respected leader in the public radio system, WBUR produces more national NPR programming than any other station in the country. Taken together, Here & Now, On Point and Only A Game reach listeners in 91% of the United States. Some key highlights of the national data:

  • Here & Now, which WBUR has produced since 1997, expanded from one to two hours in July 2013 as part of a groundbreaking partnership between NPR and WBUR, marking the first time NPR has collaborated with a member station on a daily news program. Here & Now ranks #8 of the Top 20 leading programs in public radio. As compared to one year ago, the program is up 10% in AQH and 5% in cume year over year, totaling 811,200 in AQH and a 3,730,700 cume. For comparison, this cume is approximately the same size as the entire Boston radio market as measured by Nielsen, from Worcester to Southern New Hampshire to Plymouth. Broadcast live weekdays from 12 - 2 p.m. EST, Hosts Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson update the program until 4 p.m. for different time zones on 405 stations across America, including eight of the Top 10 markets.
  • On Point, hosted by Tom Ashbrook, has shown steady growth over the last five ratings books. On Point boasted a dramatic 14% yearly increase in AQH and is up 10% in cume year over year. On Point is heard on 235 stations nationally, a 9% increase in carriage since last year, and reaches a cume audience of 1,761,900 with an AQH of 319,800. Additionally, the On Point podcast has the largest reach in WBUR's podcast portfolio, with 1.7 million downloads per month. The show, which was born in the aftermath of NPR's 9/11 special coverage, will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year.
  • Only A Game with host Bill Littlefield is also up, with an increase of 8% in AQH and 5% in cume year over year. The program, which airs once per week, has an AQH of 203,400 and a 344,400 cume on 195 NPR stations. Notably, Only A Game has seen dramatic growth in its podcast downloads, which are up 52% year over year.
  • The WBUR website at wbur.org has enjoyed 20% audience growth year over year, making it one of the largest NPR member station websites in the country. This is in addition to millions of digital content consumers engaging with WBUR through apps like NPR One, Tune In, Stitcher and WBUR's own app, as well as its podcasts.

"We believe there's a huge appetite for public radio, but we're not resting on our laurels," said Kravetz. "WBUR is striving to lead a media revolution from a position of strength with radio at its core, adding significant online offerings, podcasts and more. We want people to discover and fall in love with WBUR on every platform. Our national success, with shows like Here & Now, On Point, Only A Game and Car Talk, helps make that possible."

Strategically, WBUR has focused on the opportunities presented by digital disruption, offering audiences innovative ways to connect with its content. WBUR expanded its on-air programming with Here & Now to more markets in partnership with NPR. Online verticals have been developed, such as WBUR's CommonHealth, The ARTery and Cognoscenti, WBUR's ideas and opinions page at wbur.org. The station has also launched three new podcasts in the last year, including Dear Sugar with best-selling authors Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond; The Checkup, a partnership with CommonHealth and Slate; and The Finish Line with The Boston Globe, focused on the Boston Marathon bombing trial. WBUR has also increased its community engagement efforts, presenting more than 100 live events each year.

* SOURCES: Nielsen Audio Nationwide ACT 1, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Persons 12+
ARA Audigraphics, Fall 2014
WBUR station analytics

About 90.9 WBUR, Boston's NPR News Station:Founded in 1950, WBUR began broadcasting NPR programming in 1970, offering NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered along with local news programming. One of the nation's most successful public radio stations today, WBUR produces national NPR programs On Point, Here & Now, Only A Game and Car Talk, as well as a local daily newsmagazine, Radio Boston. Located on Commonwealth Avenue at Boston University, WBUR has the largest radio newsroom in New England, dedicated to covering topics that matter in Boston and across the nation. The work produced at WBUR can be heard on 90.9 WBUR, Boston; 89.1 WBUH, Brewster, Cape Cod; and 92.7 WBUA, Martha's Vineyard. Follow WBUR at www.wbur.org, or on Facebook and Twitter, @WBUR.

CONTACT: Media Contacts: WBUR Kristen Holgerson Phone: 617.358.2011 kholgers@wbur.org Greenough, on behalf of WBUR Andrea LePain Phone: 617-894-1153 alepain@greenoughcom.com

Source: WBUR