Mike Henry Presents Research on PR Urban Alternative Format


Last week at the Public Radio Program Directors Conference, Paragon's Mike Henry presented research on the new Urban Alternative format for public radio. In a blog post, Henry wrote that the results from five U.S. markets show that the audience appeal of Urban Alternative is "undeniably and overwhelmingly positive."

To provide a public radio entry format for young and diverse audiences, Henry says Urban Alternative is a new music format made possible by grants from the CPG. The format is a new/old, familiar/unfamiliar mix of many music styles including Hip Hop, R&B, Urban, Soul, Rap and local music presented by local hosts who curate the music.

There are two stations already airing the format: Vocalo in Chicago (vocalo.org) and The Drop in Denver (kuvo.org).

Henry posted some of the highlights from primary research conducted in Chicago, Baltimore, Houston, Norfolk and Denver.

Images typical of other public radio Music Discovery stations:

  • Have entertaining hosts/DJs
  • Have knowledgeable hosts/DJs
  • Are passionate about the music they play
  • Play music from local artists
Images unique to Urban Alternative that represent a major difference from commercial Urban radio stations:
  • Positive uplifting listening experience
  • Understand cultural history behind the music
  • Play socially conscious music
  • Play music I can listen to with my family
  • Do not play sexually explicit music
  • Do not play profanity
This is not a niche format:
  • Nationally, 77% of all 18-44s said they would listen to an Urban Alternative station with no market lower than 74%.
  • The format rates an 8.2 appeal rating (out of 10) nationally with a high of 8.9 in Houston.
  • Gender appeal is down the middle and almost 75% are under the age of 34.
  • National ethnicity averages are 40% Caucasian, 33% African American, 21% Hispanic and 6% Asian and multi-ethnic. Ethnicity appeal varies greatly by city with highs of 40%+ African Americans in Baltimore and Norfolk, 30%+ Hispanics in Houston and Denver, and 40%+ Caucasians in Denver, Norfolk and Baltimore.
  • Each station is researched locally, and the music mix is built specifically to reflect local audiences and tastes.

Read the entire article here.


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