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Study Reveals Beneficial Link Between Public Radio Stations and University Licensees (5/13/02)

WASHINGTON--The first study ever conducted to evaluate the relationship between public radio stations and their licensees demonstrates that universities have a valuable asset in their public radio stations.

In a survey of 1,000 adults representative of the U.S. population, 82% affirmed the community service provided by universities and colleges affiliated with public radio stations. Additionally, 67% of the total and 80% of NPR® listeners believe that it is either an "excellent" or "good" fit with the educational mission of a university to be associated with a public radio station.

President Daniel F. Sullivan of St. Lawrence University, Canton said of its licensee, North Country Public Radio, "it is a wonderful asset for the University and the entire region. NCPR plugs faculty and students here into what is happening globally. The combination of features like All Things Considered and A Prairie Home Companion, with outstanding locally-produced programming makes us feel like we are at the center of things. At the same time, awareness of St. Lawrence is increased and enhanced through the information about us that the station carries to its many listeners."

NPR commissioned the International Communications Research study in support of its partnership with the independent organization University: Station Alliance (U:SA). NPR and U:SA member stations recognize that both public radio and universities seek to engage people and enhance the democracy by creating a more informed public. The survey results provide public radio stations with an opportunity to discuss extending the mission of the university by providing quality programming and services to members of the surrounding community.

Public radio stations licensed to universities serve 15.3 million listeners each week, based on Fall 2001 Arbitron Nationwide estimates. This number eclipses the number of students who enroll each year in colleges and universities nationally. This strong public radio audience provides universities with a complementary outlet for building community relationships and fostering a positive image of both their university and public radio station.

Some universities have long recognized the value of this relationship. Dr. John H. Keiser, president of Southwest Missouri State University and an NPR board member says, "public radio is the highest quality, lowest cost, most insightful, and supplemental educational tool available to university students--if it is used. As an educator, I have used it since its first broadcast."

KNAU/Arizona Public Radio and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff serve as another example of a successful partnership. "We adopt the attitude that the station is a partner with the university, not an adversary," says John Stark, general manager of KNAU/Arizona Public Radio. "We implement flexible partnership strategies because institutional personnel and priorities change. We actively and continually work the relationship with internal university marketing. We cannot and choose not to fly beneath the university's radar because the administration is listening and very much aware of the station."

Through grassroots consulting and advocacy support, U:SA helps public radio stations bolster their relationship with universities. NPR supports this initiative with the primary goal of strengthening the public radio system by improving relationships between broadcasters and their universities.

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