The largest and most comprehensive study ever done on listener use and appreciation of local news on public radio was sponsored by PRNDI and a consortium of stations. The “Local News Project” was carried out in 1998 and 1999 by Peter Dominowski of Market Trends Research.
The study included a qualitative phase (35 focus groups in 18 markets) and a quantitative phase (telephone surveys of 2900 public radio news listeners in 19 markets). This large sample brought a very low margin of error in the cumulative results.
Dominowski found that 88% of the listeners used public radio as a source for state and local news. Two in three gave local news the highest rating of “extremely useful.”
Dominowski found that 94% of listeners ranked the quality of national and international news on public radio as “good” or “excellent.” By comparison, a respectable 73% rated the quality of state and local news on public radio as “good” or “excellent.” As the researcher put it, “It might be simply said that listeners like state and local news but love the national and international news on public radio.”
About half the listeners were satisfied with the amount of local news they were getting. But almost 40% wanted MORE local news.
The bottom line is that those listeners already attracted to news on public radio value local and regional coverage in proportion to the national and international news. “National and local news and information programming is inexorably intertwined,” according to the findings.
Read the study for yourself: The Local News Project