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Radio Ads Drive Affluent Listeners to NPR

USA Today reports that when National Public Radio (NPR) started offering a free podcast of its popular quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! it did so with little fanfare. That didn't stop hundreds � and perhaps thousands � of people from downloading the satirical look at the week's news on a Sunday afternoon back in February.

By Monday morning, the show had joined Apple Computer's list of the day's five most popular podcasts. It was good news for NPR, which has become a major player in the podcast world. Not so for the 350 NPR member stations that broadcast Wait Wait. They're worried that making the program available to iPods could mean a loss of listeners � and consequently the donations and sponsor dollars that keep the stations afloat.

"Anytime customers can find your product in another place, it's going to cause some concern," says John Decker of San Diego's KPBS-FM. He says the podcast trend makes some public radio programmers nervous.

Indeed, the rise of the on-demand world has local suppliers of content everywhere unsettled. In one sense, it's the classic tale of old-guard businesses struggling to withstand a disruptive technology. But it's also a lesson in how some media are benefiting by embracing the new broadcast landscape of content without boundaries.

In contrast, most traditional commercial radio stations in the U.S. need not worry about the trend of digital media delivery models. In fact, it appears that many 'affluent and thinking' Americans stopped listening to advertiser supported radio programming a long time ago. The typical commerical radio station demographic is characterized by low-income listeners who don't seem to mind a little music or talk mixed in with the constant drone of local automobile dealer commercials.

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