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Report: Radio Newsrooms are More Diverse Than Ever


RTDNA
RTDNA

The latest RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University Survey found that the minority workforce in radio rose 2 points from last year to 17.8%. That's the highest it's been in the 28 years since the survey was conducted. It also surpasses the previous high in 1998, when it hit 16%. The big, long-term picture for minorities in local radio news shows an industry well behind an ever-increasing minority population in the U.S.

In radio news, historically, men have outnumbered women by about 50%. That trend has continued, with 60.5% men this year, compared to 39.5% women. That's identical to 2021. The difference is almost entirely among Whites, where the percentage is 63% men versus 37% women. That's just a point closer than a year ago. With Hispanics, it's 57% men and 43% women; African American women outnumber men, 51.8% to 48.2%; Asian American women way outnumber the men, 65.1% to 34.9%; and Native American men and women are exactly even at 50% each.

The percentage of radio news directors of color went up more than two and a half points this year to 9.9%. Hispanic/Latino rose the most although Asian American had the biggest percentage increase. As usual, the South had the highest percentage of minority news directors, but the Northeast lagged behind all other areas.

The percentage of news staffs with minorities rose 5 points in the last year with every market size going up. As a percentage of the workforce, minorities rose 2 points from a year ago with all markets except major ones moving up at least a little. But while the percentage of minorities at non-commercial stations rose by almost 3 points, the percentage at commercial stations fell by 0.4. The bottom line here is that if it weren't for non-commercial stations, American radio news would still look blindingly White.

Female news directors are down a point from last year - which was down three and a half points from the year before. Their percentage went up in major and large markets but down in medium and small markets. Historically, women news directors have been much more common at non-commercial stations than commercial ones. Two years ago, the gap narrowed considerably, but it's widened again over the last two years - now by over 20 points.

Geographically, female news directors are most likely to be found in the West and then the Northeast. News staffs with women rose four and a half points while the percentage of women in the workforce remained exactly the same at 39.5%. As usual, the bigger the market and the bigger the newsroom, the more likely that women will be part of it. Especially at non-commercial stations.

The percentage of minority radio general managers rose by 0.7 again this year. They were more than twice as likely to be in major markets and at non-commercial stations than anywhere else, and a lot less likely in the Midwest - as usual. African American GMs came in at 2.6% (down 0.4 from last year) and now behind Hispanic/Latino at 3.4% (up 0.4 from last year). Native American doubled to 1.2% and Asian American edged up 0.1 to 0.5%.

After moving up 3 points a year ago, female general managers lost 1.3 this year. Market size, staff size, geography and commercial/non-commercial made no consistent difference in the numbers.

A new question in the survey this year asked whether "you or any members of the news staff were members of the LGBTQ+ community." Overall, 15% said yes, but that doesn't translate into 15% of the staff being members of LGBTQ+; it means that 15% of stations have one or more members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Major markets, at 34% and non-commercial stations, at 38%, led the way saying that they had LGBTQ+ members on the staff. The bigger the staff, the more likely the positive response (no surprise there). Stations in the Northeast and West were both about 20% yes, with stations in the South at just 14% and stations in the Midwest coming in at 11%. Overall, 53% of news directors and general manager said no, there were no LBGTQ+ staff members, and 32% said they didn't know.

This article is based on a paper by Bob Papper with Keren Henderson. Bob Papper is Adjunct Professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University and has worked extensively in radio and TV news. Keren Henderson is Associate Professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University.

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